Ferguson: To Those Who Don’t See The Significance

By Raquel Douglas ’15

I was talking about the events that have occurred in the past few months that spurred the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” movement, when someone asked me how the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner was any more a result of racial tension than the death of Dillon Taylor. Before I go any further, I must clarify that I am not seeking to demean the death of Dillon Taylor. I’m only explaining why there are no protests on the streets of New York for his death.

For myself, and for many other people who support this movement, our passion is not simply because white cops killed unarmed black men. Read the Kerner Report. It was released by the Kerner Commission after being established by Lyndon B. Johnson to figure out the source of rioting during the 1960’s even after pro-civil rights legislation had passed. The report found that the cause of the riots of the ‘60’s was more than just annoyance at being forced to sit in the back of the bus. It was fueled by black frustration with their place in the United States.

This is what is happening today.

This is why even the thought of racial stereotyping in a police-civilian interaction is enough to cause turmoil all over the country. It was the final straw after decades upon decades of waiting for equality to occur within America’s justice system and still being afraid to walk down the street as a Black man without fearing you’ll be profiled. Of waiting to receive equal footing in a society that you joined 200 years too late. Of waiting for the day when the dream you were told about in 1963 will finally become reality. Of waiting for the day when everyone will realize that black lives matter.

While the Civil Rights Movement did in fact create unprecedented levels of racial equality in America, legislation can only do so much. It has not yet solved the frustration of Blacks with their place in society. Blacks constitute a remarkable portion of almost all of societies most subordinate positions: the poor, the homeless, the undereducated. But the inequality stems further than that. Blacks have a lower chance at going to college. Blacks are paid less for the same amount of work, and are paid even less if they happen to be female. Blacks have one of the strongest, and most difficult to break away from, stereotypes in America. Blacks the most likely to be sentenced to death, with a possible lynching having occurred very shortly before I wrote this.

Until the racial gap is closed, this frustration with continue. It may leave, but it will come back in waves.

 

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