I’ve taken some time to digest everything that’s going on in the US right now. Obviously, the outcomes of the grand juries of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases are two very big stories. And, as with any polarizing event, people showed their true colours on social media. I chose to step back, bite my tongue, and form an educated opinion on the matter before saying anything.
To give everyone a frame of reference, I am White British-Black Caribbean. I am not Caucasian (at least not fully). I am not African-American.
Before you go on, dear reader, I remind you that this is my opinion. And that I accept criticism as long as it is constructive. If you cannot be constructive in your debate, then please take your remarks elsewhere.
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First of all, there is a race relation problem in America. To say that there isn’t is to invalidate the beliefs that one group holds. That they are essentially oppressed. “Oppression” is defined as ” unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power; a sense of being weighed down in body or mind” according to Merriam-Webster. Oppression isn’t solely a physical thing – it’s also mental. And that is what I think is going on. I think (and I am making a large generalization here) that the African-American community feels oppressed to some extent. Not necessarily physically, as in the existence of a system exercising power over them (i.e Jim Crow laws), but mentally.
To say that there is not a race relation problem in America is to ignore the obvious, in my opinion. And it’s obvious to me because I’ve experienced plenty of racism first-hand. I think (again, large generalization here) that the Caucasian community believes that there is not an issue with race relations in America. That the civil rights movement nailed the coffin shut on racial tension.
With these two schools of thought conflicting each other, the vicious cycle of racial tension continues. African-Americans believing that the Caucasians are oppressing them. The Caucasians believing that there is no problem with race anymore.
Neither one is right.
Neither view is helpful.
Each side perpetuates the vicious cycle.
Secondly, the problems with race in America have been swept under the rug. Perhaps for fear of truly addressing the issue. Perhaps for lack of understanding how to properly address the issue. Perhaps for more “important” problems like government shutdowns, ISIS, and national healthcare.
I can understand not wanting to tackle this issue. Then again, it’s a big issue. And you can only ignore the giant elephant in the room for so long before you start to get uncomfortable.
Thirdly, I think that the riots, lootings, and destruction of businesses were completely uncalled for. I believe in peaceful protest and civil disobedience to an extent – I don’t believe in destroying things so that your voice can be heard.
But, let’s think about this. And bear with me here. Another large generalization.
I don’t think that a majority of those who rioted and looted in Ferguson were voting citizens. They have the right to vote just like any other US citizen – I just don’t think that voting is a common practice in Ferguson and similar communities. To me, if I want my voice to be heard, I vote and I contact my Representatives and Senators. And even if things don’t go in my favour (as much of the midterm election), at least I know that my voice was heard.
How do you let your voice be heard if you don’t vote? You riot and you loot and you burn buildings. Because those things make statements.
It’s not right. Not at all. But I believe that is the reason behind the destruction.
If this country could open its closets, show its skeletons, and pledge to honestly work to alleviate the problem, then there could be some proper social progress. Until then, I’m afraid that unfortunate events like those involving Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner will continue to happen.
It’s a big, complex, nasty, festering problem. But it’s not impossible to tackle.
I’ve got some ideas…