The old West died when people started driving cars and the massacre at Wounded Knee occurred. But one would think that the Old West is still alive from all of the violence that occurs in today’s America. It is a violent country and frankly it is time we matured as a nation and it is past time that we worked to stop the killing.
Events in Ferguson, Missouri, highlight the fact that racism is just below the surface and that occasionally we see the violent ramifications of a divided country.
Slavery did not help the situation as slaves were looked at as property. Slaves were physically freed but the bonds of servitude still exist.
For years and years, many of our fellow citizens have been taught that black people are sub-human. We still dehumanize them constantly. The death of Michael Brown just further illustrates the sickness that exists in our society. The question that comes to mind is have we learned anything since the riots of the 60’s?
Los Angeles has learned lessons from the riots that occurred when Rodney King was unmercifully beaten on video tape. The police force became more racially balanced and more in-depth work takes place in the hiring practices of who becomes a policeman in the city of the Angels. The daunting fact is that the policemen who were responsible for the beating were found not guilty. So, again what have we learned?
We live in a multi-racial society. America does not have a sterling history when it comes to bias and bigotry. We are fortunate to have citizens who are from every part of the world. But that does not erase the history of what we have done to Native Americans, the Irish, the Chinese who built our railroads in the West, the Italian Americans, the Japanese internment camps and of course the sorry and tragic story of how African-Americans have been treated.
Instead of looking at Michael Brown as a human being the media and the police looked at him as something different. The police looked at this young man as a threat even though he was unarmed. Where was Mr. Wilson’s back up? Why is the police force disproportionately white? The media looked at Brown as a symbol and not as a human being. Looters took advantage of the chaos but the media was short on the good stories of how individuals worked to protect the local businesses from the looters. Whether Michael Brown was a good person or not does not matter. No one deserves to be shot 6 times or more if he was in fact unarmed.
Getting along in a multi-racial and multi-cultural society brings with it, its blessings and its problems. We as Americans need to address the lingering divide that exists. We need to stop the killing. Each town and city in America needs to look within themselves and honestly ask whether or not there is a problem in their town regarding how incidents are handled when a person who is a black man is under suspicion. We have options other than shooting to kill when a policeman or woman finds themselves confronted with a person of color who is unarmed. There are taser weapons that can be used and other ways to handle a situation other than the use of extreme measures.
We as a society are still not far removed from the day when postcards were available in parts of the country with pictures of lynchings on them. People still move out of their neighborhoods when blacks move in. Our prisons are the repositories for too many black men. If the way we treat others comes from fear or loathing that needs to stop.
We are all to be treated equally under the law. We have a system of justice and we should let the wheels of justice deal with the alleged criminal actions of individuals. The police are to be respected but they must earn respect. The job of the police is to protect and serve the public. Their job description does not include judge, jury and executioner. Let us work to be a more civil society before it is too late. Let us stop the killing!