The false facade of the United States' progression

Illustration by Tonesha Yazzie

United States society has never made much of an effort to try to be progressive or right its wrongs of the past, even though recent culture in society may come off as politically “woke.”

Society will inevitably value toxic traits even if they are morally wrong and deemed to be intolerable on the surface.

Whether it be racism, homophobia, transphobia or simple nicotine addictions evolving from the cigarette to the popular Juul, the United States will always remain problematic, even under the impression of being progressive.

An easy scapegoat to blame for the lack of progression in U.S. society can simply be the foundation of what this country was built on — colonization and oppression. Even if colonization happened 300 years ago, its impacts are still relevant today.

Sure, growth is hard and doesn’t happen overnight. And yes, obviously the U.S. as a society has condemned slavery since the 1800s.

Although society has made its old habit of slavery and colonization a thing of the past, the lasting effects can be seen through the lovely characteristics of racism, sexism and homophobia in society today.

Since the 2016 presidential election, polarizing sides of society have emerged out of hiding.

People are predictable. Whether they contribute to either the millennial-driven “woke” movement of Bernie supporters, which can be compared to the 1970s hippie-fueled Vietnam protests, or to the opposite group seen through Trump supporters, who pride themselves on marginalizing women and minorities and has been compared to the KKK.

The similarities between society’s past and its current state goes to show that it is all cyclical and change is actually quite rare.

Electing Trump as president in 2016 reflects all the internalized racism, misogyny and homophobia that society has always valued, but a portion has tried to forget about for a short time.

Rather than continue ranting about controversial politics, there are other societal habits that have stood the test of time that are a bit less depressing, depending on the angle one looks at it.

Throughout all of the 20th century, society’s romanticizing of smoking cigarettes and having a nicotine addiction, in general, was very prominent and popular.

That is until people realized smoking cigarettes and using tobacco in most forms causes mouth cancer, lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, heart attacks, asthma and premature death. Society then denounced smoking for the most part once it was connected to so many negative health impacts.

However, fast forward into the 21st century, now vaping has infiltrated youth with the trendy Juul, carrying roughly as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes in just one Juul pod.

Although I am biased because I don’t personally approve of vaping for fun, the fact of the matter is the trend Juuling has become can be compared to that of smoking cigarettes.

Once society finally realizes the negative impacts that racism, homophobia, and sexism have on societal health as a whole, then maybe progression can actually be possible in the near future.

Living under the facade that society has progressed and learned from its mistakes just because smoking isn’t as socially acceptable and slavery is a suppressed part of this country’s history is one of the aspects that makes it harder to become fully progressive as a society.

The belief that society has already made progress is not only false, but holds society back from progression at a quicker pace if it is the only aspect that people focus on. Putting effort into how society can progress better and further than what it’s at now is a major help in actually getting there and not being stuck in a racist rut.