Ferguson reveals America’s racial divide

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Christopher Mark Juhn

Downtown Minneapolis hosted a Ferguson protest on Aug. 28. (Photos: Chris Juhn/City College News)

By Trevor Squire/[email protected]
News Editor

Almost a month has passed since the shooting of Michael Brown, resurfacing racial debates across all regions of the country. The altercation that occurred between Brown and Officer Darren Wilson is still foggy and we may never know the exact details of what happened prior to Darren shooting Brown.

These types of stories seemingly emerge onto the major media market in the midst of controversial international issues. Brown’s death is tragic and an example of police brutality towards African-Americans, but there needs to be some recognition that unjustified murders happen everyday, some cases where racial roles are reversed, and that all minds focused on one matter diverts attention away from larger scale calamities.

Trayvon Martin’s murder was thrusted into the national spotlight the same month that tension between Israel and Iran grew due to Iran’s expansion of their nuclear program, which Israel later threatened they would bomb Iran. Israel remains the shining example of democracy in the Middle East; a model that the United States’ government will turn a blind eye to conserve order.

Two years later, air strikes over Palestinian refugees remain buried under the mass cesspool of western media. If we hold all life as sacred, the death of 500 people in 14 days of bombing heavily outweighs one young man and the riots that have ensued. Race is still the largest issue facing Americans today, where unseen barriers are a reality facing minorities.

Stories like Martin and Brown’s are what divide racial lines further. The systematic displacement of minorities in America’s past has embedded certain values and complexes in different races. Stereotypes are exaggerated truths of the world we live in today and often perpetuate negative traits associated with a particular culture. The longer we give stereotypes truth and live within these social stigmas the greater the distance grows between races.

Hundreds gathered on the streets of Downtown Minneapolis.
Hundreds gathered on the streets of Downtown Minneapolis.

I find the riots to be justified in Ferguson, due to historical treatment of the African-American community in Ferguson. They’ve pushed peaceful protest, but looting and violence still manages to poke its head into national spotlight. Some claim that there are conspirators working within the protests who taint the image of what is actually being fought for by encouraging and provoking the violent acts seen. After centuries of subjective mistreatment based on a human being’s melanin, what else can you expect? When you back someone into the corner, they’ll continue to step backwards and backwards until they reach a wall, once the wall is hit there is no other choice but to fight back.

Solidarity marches across the country have been organized in efforts to expose the underlying issue behind police brutality. Ferguson’s police department has always been majorly caucasian, and the addition of a few African-American officers has had no impact on the department’s overly suspicious traffic stops. Fear of being pulled over and subjected to unfair treatment is something caucasians doesn’t have to deal with on a regular basis. These are the scenarios that land young African-American men and women in prison for petty charges and continuing the cycle of the prison-industrial complex.

Despite different upbringing, all cultures have their own battles everyday. Some more uphill than others, it is important that we recognize that we all live under a system that has created socio-economic barriers that stunts the progression of the lower class. We are looking through a keyhole to the actual gravity of these situations and until there is serious reform, empathy is the only elixir on a daily level. This is an everyday issue that shouldn’t be taboo to discuss outside of a relative timeline that dissolves tensions towards a more central ideology. Further, community development needs to be a higher priority to underprivileged areas so people may play the cards they’re dealt without collusion.

According to the 2013 U.S. Census, minorities now make up 50 percent of children under five. Youthful winds of change are on the horizon and those who resist will see similar opposition to what has occurred in Ferguson.

To see more photos from the Minneapoolis protest, click here.