I’ve written this several times because I was having trouble putting my thoughts in order. When I shared my frustrations with a friend she asked me, “Well, what’s bothering you the most about this?”
Everything about Ferguson is bothering me, but what is getting under my skin and leaving me sitting at my computer angry, confused and hurt is the fact that people are denying that this has anything to do with race. These are the same kind of people who believe that since we officially abolished slavery and I can drink out of whatever water fountain I want, we’re living in a post-racial America.
These people couldn’t be more wrong.
Mike Brown is another unarmed young black man murdered by police for committing the heinous crime of being black. Some will argue that he had just shoplifted at a convenience store, or was smoking weed, or that he liked to write raps filled with swear words.
None of these are offenses punishable by death.
When the residents of Ferguson gathered in mostly peaceful protests, they were met with heavily militarized police forces. Rubber bullets and tear gas rained down upon citizens protesting a gross injustice. When Cliven Bundy refused to pay his taxes like the rest of us, all his cronies gathered on his ranch with guns and threatened federal agents; they were met with…Fox News commentators calling them patriots.
Is that not a double standard?
When gun enthusiasts showed up at Target with very real guns and basically scared the shit out of everyone, they screamed about the second amendment and everyone politely nodded in agreement. When John Crawford stood in a Wal Mart aisle with a very not real toy gun, he was gunned down by police.
How is that post-racial America working out for you?
The media found the few looters in Ferguson and zeroed in on them. Look away from the peaceful protesters! Instead, look at these thugs! These criminals! Send in the National Guard! When the Penn States students rioted over the firing of a football coach, they were just wacky college kids.
Race still matters in a huge way.
Yes, we’ve made some strides. Some of the most racist policies are gone now—though etched in American history in shame—but the residual effects are still present. Racist housing policies that kept us from acquiring wealth has kept us in poverty. Racist schooling policies have kept us from succeeding and kept our unemployment levels flourishing.
Ugly media narratives have kept us from being seen as anything but criminals and thugs who deserve death. Yet another black kid is dead and his white killer walks free, with the police preferring to treat citizens like animals than arrest him.
This has everything to do with race.