“Eastward and westward storms are breaking,–great, ugly whirlwinds of hatred and blood and cruelty. I will not believe them inevitable.”
What does Ferguson say about “us?” What does Ferguson say about Ferguson, Missouri? What does Ferguson say about crimes involving young black men? What does Ferguson say about the police? What does Ferguson say about white on black crime? What does Ferguson say about black on white crime? What does Ferguson say about anything?
This is what we’ve been asking ourselves, isn’t it? Aren’t we being invited to have these discussions? Ferguson, in my view, doesn’t say or produce anything new; it’s just another highlight to the ongoing discussions (some would say argument) on racism. No, Ferguson isn’t an isolated incident that should be ignored or marginalized, but, what should we gain from what we read, saw, and eventually perceived? Racism in the U.S. is still wholly unresolved. And there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
There is an ongoing accusation by the protesters and rioters that cops are just out killing black men. The perception that Black Men Walking (BMW – BMW’s being addressed by the The NAACP 8th Annual Leadership 500 Summit, among others) are being targeted by police (and neighborhood watch coordinators, rarely) unnecessarily and that this phenomena is on the rise. Of course, we all remember the Shooting of Trayvon Martin and the implications derived from that media circus, don’t we?
USAToday.com points out that there are glaring holes in the reporting of Officer Involved Shootings (OIS). The frequency of OIS cannot be verified by simply doing a Google search or by poring over FBI statistics. According to the above linked article, approximately 400 people are killed by local police annually. An article by Vox.com has a more thorough evaluation of the available data.
From the time of America’s founding, racism and racial tensions have been the premise of many conversations among ourselves. Through the slave trade to the Emancipation Proclamation, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to the election of the country’s first black President, racism has been a legitimate (but sometimes ill-conceived) socio-political concern. We have a racism issue in this country, no doubt. But who’s guilty of perpetuating it?
The labeling or calling out “racism” has become en vogue, it seems. For instance, I’m a white male and when openly discussing and disagreeing with policies of my President through various social media, I hear/read “you’re racist” as often as I garner a genuine discussion of said policies. Of course this is a simple example and not completely inclusive of my argument, but it goes without saying that it (racism) is everywhere.
From Google, a quick search for “what is racism,” comes back with this:
- the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
- prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
That’s what I thought. I’ve always shuddered when hearing or reading this word because I usually feel it’s been used incorrectly. If I say to someone, “that guy’s an asshole,” (who happens to be non-white — I’m a white guy, remember?) in regards to something said or an action exhibited to be displeasurable, there’s a chance that I’ll get back in return, “wow, that’s racist!” How? If I don’t rear up and proclaim my displeasure with the shooting of Michael Brown and the injustice purely based on the fact that it was a white cop, I’m labeled a racist. Why is this used so flippantly?
I don’t care “two ways” about Michael Brown being black or that the cop was white. I care about the facts of the case. Did the cop shoot that guy because he stole something or was assaulted by Michael Brown, or was it because he was black? If it was because he was black, solely, then I feel the cop should see the inside of a prison for a very long time. But if it was in self-defense, which has been proposed by those siding with the officer involved, then the fact that Michael Brown was black is completely irrelevant. Completely. Is the cop inherently racist? Who really knows other than the officer himself. Are we to assume, under the cloak of racism, that had Michael Brown been white, the officer would have just said, “come on fella, give yourself up,” and not drawn his weapon in self-defense after being physically assaulted; you know, because it was a white guy? I’d propose that there are few facts to support this.
It’s been a few weeks now since the shooting and the ensuing riots. The media storm that took over Ferguson has seemingly died down along with the public outcry. Just recently, though, there was a (what appears to be a racially motivated) “Fam Mob (a known Memphis gang)” attack on three people outside of a Kroger (grocery store) in Memphis. Prior to the “Fam Mob” attack in Memphis, down the road in Tupelo, Mississippi, two men were attacked by a group of approximately twenty men at a Huddle House after being told by an anonymous person that it wasn’t a “safe place for whites (seemingly due to the Michael Brown incident).“
President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Holder) have both been actively commenting on and involved in the incident in Ferguson. Holder has even visited Ferguson bringing along an initiative to launch a “sweeping federal civil rights investigation.” This may seem, to some, as a signal from Washington that things are out of control in Ferguson, or an acknowledgment of purpose for the protesters. But my question is, why isn’t there a similar outcry followed by the media storm that highlighted the racial overtones in Ferguson? Why isn’t the President or Holder commenting and visiting Memphis and Tupelo? Why does the shooting of Michael Brown elicit a reaction, but the senseless beatings of two white veterans by a predominantly black group, or the attack on three people by a known black gang doesn’t?
Now, I don’t necessarily feel that the President or Holder have reason to insert themselves into any of these incidents. They appear, on the front cover at least, to be isolated and localized. Again, this is not to diminish the atrocities or possible narratives construed from something such as a racially motivated crime. But, crimes are perpetuated all across our country daily. They involve any possible mixture of social, economic, racial, and a number of other motivating factors. Ferguson, Memphis, and Tupelo may, though, be a bellwether for racial tensions escalating beyond levels previously witnessed since the Civil Rights Movement.
The notion that Ferguson is a catalyst for these discussions may be the answer to some of these questions. Bringing about a conversation is not always a bad thing, especially considering the topic of racism in America. My only real issue with all of this is the focus on white on black crimes with a seemingly complete dismissal of black on white crime. If we’re going to discuss race issues in this country, we need to open the conversation to all races.
Or not. But what do I know? I’m just another dude with a blog and rambling thoughts facetiously posed as an opinion.