Friday, August 15, 2014

Racism is Alive and Well in America

Last Saturday, an unarmed, innocent black man was shot and killed by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, the city and the county police forces have acted in such a way as to make them look guilty, shooting tear gas at peaceful assemblies and bringing in armored vehicles. The police department refused to release the name of the shooting officer until today - it's Darren Wilson - and attempt to sway the public by releasing a video tape where they allege the victim, Michael Brown, participated in a robbery Saturday morning.

The shooting officer stated that he had no idea about the alleged robbery; he stopped to harass Michael Brown for walking in the street.

That's correct, folks.  The chief of police tried to lay groundwork to protect his officer, when in reality the man shot someone for walking in the street.

For the record, the population of Ferguson is about 65% black, but its police department is over 99% white, and according to the Missouri Attorney General in Ferguson:

  • 86% of all traffic stops involve black drivers
  • 93% of all arrests after traffic stops are black
  • 92% of all searches afters stops are black
  • 34% of all white people stopped have contraband
  • 22% of all black people stopped have contraband
Looking at the last two facts, it becomes obvious that white people with contraband are not arrested as much as black people with contraband.  Sadly, the police in Ferguson join those in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and other cities as paramilitary racist bullies.  But the racism goes beyond police departments.

The media reflects the underlying social racism.  Huffington post wrote a wonderful article on this, and I encourage you to read it.  Basically, media use negative terms to describe black victims and positive terms to describe white suspects.  I wonder how much of Trayvon Martin's jury was influenced by the media.

Even more, the show "What Would You Do?" tried an experiment with bike theft.  They set up a white guy, a black guy, and a pretty young lady with a planted, locked bike and tools to try to steal the bike.  The response from the public is appalling.  The white guy gets a few questions, but no hassling.  The pretty young lady not only gets no harassment, but one man helps her unlock the bike.

But the black guy?  The public runs him off, calling 9-1-1 and verbally harassing him.

All three participants answered inquiries with similar answers to avoid language bias.  They parked the bike in the same position, and gave the people the same tools to use.  The drastic asymmetry in the public reactions highlight how racist American still are.

Personally, I find the entire situation embarrassing and terrifying.  Embarrassing because I had hoped that America would have lost more of its racism by now.  Terrifying because the violence perpetrated by the white establishment on black citizens will only lead to more distrust and ultimately more violence.

When will we grow up and realize that the extremely minuscule genetic difference between white skin and black skin mean nothing else?  That people are people regardless of skin color?

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