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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

American Civil Rights Ripples Backwards

The emotions of most Americans simmered over into a boiling hot mess of despondency, after a grand jury came to the conclusion not to indict a police officer for fatally shooting an 18 year-old unarmed boy in Ferguson, Mo.
Michael Brown by Demont Pinder

To anyone who is unfamiliar 
with the opening sentence, you might be thinking … “What’s the big deal? It was probably an accident.” But when you add a dash of color to the story, Black and White, and you’ll probably understand that it’s an accident that happens one too many times in America. 

Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, is a White American, and the 18 year-old unarmed youth, Michael Brown, was Black American.  It doesn’t matter what Michael Brown was accused of doing prior to being confronted by the officer. Wilson didn’t have to use the shoot to kill method because the young man was unarmed. 

The decision not to charge Wilson with Brown’s death was read on the night of Monday Nov. 24, 2014 around 9pm EST by St. Louis County’s Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch. It was at that time America learned that the nation took several steps backwards into the challenging times of the Civil Rights Movement. 
Protesters in Missouri 

After people got wind that Wilson wasn’t going to be held responsible for the death of Michael Brown, the peaceful protest slowly turned into violent protest, rioting and looting. Clearly this not a good look for fellow Americans as a whole – Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Jewish, and every other ethnicity in between who calls the USA their home.

BACK ON TRACK

Once emotions simmer down in Ferguson and the rest of America, it would be ideal that people step up and speak up in their communities for racial equality in every form. I don’t think that we should teach our children to fear police officers; they are supposed to protect and serve. However, we should teach our children how to present themselves when questioned by law enforcement. I’ve heard too many stories of Blacks being the aggressor when approached by a police officer, and it’s time that we squash that particular stereotype. In the case of Michael Brown, it's been reported that the young teenager was the aggressor toward officer Wilson. And one celebrity spoke up and pointed out the giant elephant in the room. 

Read: Pharrell Williams: Why Aren’t We Talking About Michael Brown’s ‘Bullyish’ Behavior?


Yes, it’s true, as Blacks we are always on guard because we are always a target. It doesn’t matter how many college degrees we have, how eloquent we speak, what type of luxury car we drive, what country club we are members of, because we are walking targets for law enforcement. However, if we teach our children how to present themselves respectfully then I am sure our target rate will lower over the years. 



It’s not just up to the civilians to keep their actions in check. The local government really needs to reconsider police training and eliminate the shoot to kill tactic. I learned that in some European countries police officers are not trained to kill suspects. Instead of shoot to kill they shoot to enable.  

For example, during an episode of the Steve Harvey Morning Show, said said he saw a YouTube video, which originated out of Germany, where a man walking around with a machete was shot in the legs not in the head or chest. The suspect was taken in, sent to the hospital, and then off to jail where he waited for his day in court. See, no killing necessary. Why can’t American police officers have similar training? 

SO HOW CAN AMERICA MOVE FORWARD? 

It was brought to my attention, from one of my international family friends, that Black elites aren’t doing enough to help the Black community. Is it really their responsibility though? I always got the impression that when most Blacks leave their tough neighborhoods they grew up in they hardly ever look back once they hit the affluent status. (If you know of any accessible Blacks who have come up and gives back to their old community please send them my way. Their stories deserve to be told.) 

Others believe that we don't have Civil Rights leaders who are front and center organizing and helping minorities fight for their rights. I’m not talking about Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson; they have and continue to do their part. I am talking about fresh new leaders in the fight for Civil Rights. If there are any leaders, they usually jump in after a young Black or Hispanic man gets treated unfairly. 

Other critics, including myself, find it hard to believe that this is still happening today, in 2014. And to make matters worse, racial injustice is taking place while under the leadership of the first Black president.  

These are all valid points and I am sure there is a list of others. But it is truly a shame that we don’t see anyone pursuing a new agenda of Civil Rights. If there are, the news outlets are doing a horrible job of telling those stories in print, local and network television news, and online media outlets. Every platform of journalism should make a solid effort to find and share those stories instead of waiting around for another event that pulls America's Civil Rights a few steps back. 


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