“Minorities in the United States have been oppressed for 500 years”
by carlos matías
“Ethnic minorities in the United States have been suffering oppression by the privileged classes for more than 500 years. Progress is being made, but very slowly.” Gabriela Olmos, a writer, and Mexican by origin, who in 2016 moved to Alaska and married a U.S. citizen, said. She is now in her fifth year in Anchorage as an activist in the defense of civil rights and equal opportunities for these minorities. “There is a long way to go,” she points out to Sol de Medianoche.
Gabriela Olmos is Secretary and Equity Officer on the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union in Alaska (ACLU), and a leading member of human rights organizations. She currently works at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. In addition, she has been studying Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 2019.
“The discrimination that minorities suffer is mainly caused by the fear that elites feel of losing their power over them,” Gabriela points out. “It is systemic discrimination and very difficult to eradicate, which manifests itself in all aspects of life, even in small, everyday details.”
Gabriela lists some examples: “someone who looks down on you because you don’t speak perfect American English, or you speak it well, but with a Hispanic accent; someone who looks down on you because your skin is darker and your hair is brown; or because of your physical features, or your customs... Any detail, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is enough for someone with xenophobic and racist prejudices to classify you in a category of person to turn away from, or to ignore, in short.”
Police camera controversy Sol de Medianoche asks Gabriela Olmos what she thinks about the recent controversy over the new police regulations for the use of body-worn cameras. These cameras are used to record a scene in which the officers may have behaved with excessive force, or when one of them fires at a suspect.
Until now, the images were in the public domain. This is why brutal excesses committed against African American citizens, such as George Floyd in Minneapolis or Ma’Khia Bryant in Ohio, or against Hispanics such as Adam Toledo in Chicago, have been known and have gone around the world.
However, the new rules that are intended to be applied in Anchorage under the administration of Dave Bronson lose their status as “public images,” which has provoked protests from civil rights organizations. These organizations suspect that, with these new rules, disproportionate abuses of force by police officers may be concealed by the officers themselves, as their recordings are no longer in the public domain, and therefore such excesses may go unpunished.
“The most disadvantaged social groups are the ones who are going to pay a high price for this concealment and secrecy, because police abuses will be covered up by the police officers themselves,” comments Gabriela. “The number of hate attacks on minorities in Alaska is alarming,” says Gabriela Olmos, “and I’m not just talking about possible police abuses. The numbers are there, and they are staggering. African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and aAlaskan Natives are the ones who suffer the most from these attacks to the point of real fear in their families. Let’s hope that the campaign the FBI has launched will do some good. But there is a lot of work to be done in this regard.”
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