Police killings show social disconnect

 

The events that have transpired in Ferguson, Missouri in the last four months have, as we all know, been incredibly tragic. Unfortunately, this tragedy will most likely be swept under the rug by our society and the lessons that should be learned lost. While the argument of racism in the United States has been shouted by minority communities, their cries have  fallen, and in my opinion, will continue to fall, on deaf ears.

White Americans are not evil. To generalize people along racial stereotypes is irresponsible and shows a lack of connection with other human beings. This, I believe, is the problem with American culture. There is blatant unwillingness to see an issue, like the Michael Brown killing, and to connect to it on a personal level. Americans see issues through their own lens and fail to put themselves in the shoes of others.

 I think this is especially true when the topic of racial inequality is brought up amongst whites. Being a white male myself, I am most familiar with the white community and tend to see issues in the world through the mindset that I have developed over the course of my life. This action is not unique to Caucasians but rather is a reaction to familiarity and the comfort that it brings. Unfortunately, I believe that this familiarity and unwillingness to break from it, has led to the massive racial disconnect in our country.

Michael Brown’s death is just one of many instances where an African-American individual was wrongfully murdered by a white police officer. The African-American community has responded to these killings with heartbreak, anger and cries for retribution, and they have every right to feel this way. The minute details of this particular case will never be truly understood, and officer Darren Wilson will not pay for the blood on his hands. Our legal system has determined that there was no concrete evidence to move forward toward a trial. Any hope  for setting a precedent of punishment for these types of killings was lost.

Some in the white community will look at Darren Wilson and our legal system working. Others will simply look at this situation and shrug it off as a shame. Because Michael Brown was not white, white people see him as an outsider and because he has no direct connection to their lives, the importance of action and change doesn’t land on their list of priorities. While they may take a moment out of their day to read the news about Michael Brown  or any of the countless others wrongfully cut down, there is no deep remorse, there is no  asking “What can I do to end these terrible events?” 

Segregation may have ended institutionally but, our schools, businesses friend groups and cities still remain staunchly divided. We had hoped the message of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, “Segregation now. Segregation Tomorrow. Segregation forever,” would have disappeared from our rearview. With the ever- growing wealth gap in every corner of the United States it seems that the worlds of white and black won’t ever collide and that we will continue to remain segregated. Will the hateful words of George Wallace hold truer than the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

 While racism of course exists, it is not the norm. I refuse to believe that all cops are evil. I refuse to believe that all African-Americans are criminals and I refuse to accept where civil rights in the U.S. stands. Do I know the cure all for racism and the racial inequality that plagues our nation? No. The only solution I can offer is this; the next time a tragedy like Ferguson happens,  don’t form an opinion about it based on politics or race. Look at that person as an equal, as a family member or as a friend. Feel the heartbreak that person’s family does and maybe we can start to move away from assessing a tragedy racially and start learning and healing together. 

Do you agree with Ryan’s stance on the events that have taken place in Ferguson?  Has racial progress reached a point of stagnancy in the United States?  Please send all of your comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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