In our supposed “post-racial” America, where the election of a biologically 50% black man to the office of President has loosed, under an imaginary mask, the livid bigotry which animates our culture to its core, reality has once again reared, visibly, its ugly head. It exists all day, every day, in the most mundane and common of ways, with the on-going, never-ending oppression of dark-skinned people – economic ghettoization, cultural hypocrisy, profiled policing, a constant onslaught of prejudice fashioned as policy: where you can live, how you can live, if you can live. The statistics of black life in America (and as well others – Native American, hispanic) are appalling, as are the simple human realities. America has pretended to have dealt with this, but it never did. A tiny minority of millionaire sports and show-biz “successes” have been used as a veneer to cover the daily offense which America at large heaps on people with the “wrong” color. In Ferguson, Missouri, this disease has exposed itself yet again, with a nearly all-white police force, now armed with tools for military actions, carrying out the underlying policies of oppression which our culture enforces other ways every day, all day. Living while black, a capital crime in America, most often kept conveniently hidden, and periodically erupting to the “surprised” populace of the non-black (or Native American, or hispanic or others) for whom everyday America is a perpetual enemy.
When will it change? Probably never. A dishonest, self-deluded people cannot change what they refuse to acknowledge as a problem. That’s US(A).
Addendum, August 16, 2014.
The situation in Ferguson has wobbled, tensions heightened by an inept town police captain who released the surveillance video of Michael Brown, the unarmed now-dead young man gunned down by a police officer for walking in the middle of a residential road, against the request of Federal authorities after a day of relative calm. This was followed by a day of rioting and looting. A curfew has now been imposed, and tensions are once again very high. Comments in a New York Times article on the matter received responses such as this, which were heavily approved by the enlightened Times readers:
NYC 10 hours ago
I grew up poor. I never shoplifted, I never punched out a store owner. I never made excuses. I worked. I worked two jobs, three jobs, I didn’t stand on the street and yell about my rights being violated. I worked, I learned to speak proper English and read until I was literate. I feel for Mr. Brown’s family, but he was not just getting ready for college, he was breaking the law and getting ready for jail. And a community that protests with violence is no less different than a community that fails to denounce terrorism as means to attract support for their cause. This country has become a country of causes and we wonder why we are polarized. Go to work, organize, and stop breaking windows and stealing, if you want to be recognized as a viable alternative. Stop whining and throwing rocks, do something constructive.
Philly 10 hours ago
Judging from the casual and menacing way Brown strong armed the poor store clerk as he robbed him, I have to believe that it was not the first time. Not exactly the sweet and gentle child he’s been portrayed to be. The police account that Brown scuffled with the police officer and lunged for his gun is completely believeable. By the way, one of the so called witnesses supporting Brown was his partner in crime in the convenience store robbery. So much for that.
Home 10 hours ago
Michael Brown looks like a thief and a bully. I believe there are two sides to this story and the officer should not get railroad to satisfy local dissatisfaction with the handling of this death. The police officer went 6 years without firing his weapon at anyone – I don’t think he randomly shot Mr. Brown. Also, I believe Mr. Brown’s behavior in the 15 minutes leading up to his death is extremely relevant and the police had every right to release it.
And so on. (I note that DS from New York, while noting that they “grew up poor” doesn’t mention which skin-tone they have.)
Far down on the list came these:
is a trusted commenter NY Metro Area 10 hours ago
Yes, shoplifting is a robbery, but the reaction to it was disproportionate. Meanwhile, Wall Street gangsters got a way with tons of money and not one of them was arrested, let alone shot, and no armored vehicles were brought in. Just sayin’.
New York 6 hours ago
It would be very convenient and perhaps comforting if we could blame the events of Ferguson on a) a bullying thug, b) a racist or perhaps scared police officer, c) an apparently witless police chief, or d) outside agitators determined to loot and create mayhem. By picking one of these, we can dismiss the fundamental problems that the events of Ferguson have revealed, yet again.
We have a vastly unequal society, whether one considers results or opportunity. Racism still thrives in the United States, and is sometimes still fatal. We are deeply divided in countless other ways as well. Our justice system and our system of policing ourselves is severely flawed. We spend more time, energy, and money punishing, denying, and excluding than we do in providing hope and opportunity. A large portion of our citizens do not feel that their government is responsive to their ideas, needs, or wishes, and feel that it no longer represents them. I am sure that others could add to this list. What Ferguson makes clear is that we have a lot of work to do if we wish to live up to our own espoused ideals, and we had best stop blaming someone else and roll up our sleeves.
I replied to this last with:
Yes, the fundamental “problems” of America will once again be conveniently swept under the rug: racism (from the beginning), economic disparity (from the beginning); denial of our communal behavior (genocide against Indians; slavery and its aftermath); militarism (America’s answer to almost everything); that 5% of the world’s population, the USA, consumes (by strong arming and military conquest, and economic extortion) 25% of the world’s resources; etc. etc.. Nope, we’re not gonna talk about that.