A Few Thoughts on Ferguson

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Unless you’ve live without TV, internet access, and newspapers, you probably know that a few months ago, in Ferguson, Missouri, Mike Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson. You also probably know that during Thanksgiving week, the courts decided not to indict Wilson for the crime, and there aren’t a lot of people who’ve been openly happy about it. And everyone has weighed in on it in one way or another. I can’t think of anyone by name who didn’t feel outraged by the result, and unfortunately not all of the reactions we’ve had across the country have been peaceful.

Now, I’ve kept my silence on this subject since the court decided not to indict Wilson, for a few reasons.

One, I don’t think there’s anything I can add to the conversation that hasn’t already been said. As I mentioned earlier, everyone has had something to say about it in one way or another. So as frustrated as I am with what’s been going on, there’s nothing I can say that might differ from everyone else’s spoken opinions.

Two, while I do realize that racism is still a problem and it is worth getting angry about, that’s not the only problem with the Ferguson decision. The other problem is that Darren Wilson is only one in a line of cops who has gotten away with murder—which, for anyone else in the country, is bad enough to warrant anything from years in prison to the death penalty. However, even if the government won’t punish Wilson for his actions, it’s pretty clear that nearly everyone else in America wants to. I mean, can you imagine getting out of bed and facing the fact that half the country wants to see you punished for something unspeakably awful that you did? We hire cops so that they can protect American citizens, not kill them. Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear that, while racism is a problem, it wasn’t the only problem with the Ferguson case.

And three, the one aspect of the story that people talk about the most is that America is still racist, and it’s still filled to the brim with injustice.

But here are a few questions that I’d like to address: why are we racist? Why are we determined to judge each other and stereotype one another based on what we look like? And if we want to see a positive change, what can we do to make sure it happens?

Let me ask these questions again:

Why are we racist?

Why are we determined to judge each other and stereotype one another based on appearances?

What can we do to change for the better?

Truth be told, I’ve only seen a few people address such questions, and even then, they didn’t claim to have the answers. Unfortunately, I can’t say in all honesty that I can answer these questions, either. I can only speculate like everyone else. But I do have a few guesses, which you’re free to ponder or ignore.

One, we’re imperfect. We’re so prone to sin that it becomes second nature to us, and racism is another one of those things that make us disgusting, sinful creatures.

Two, we’re afraid of what’s different. People respond to changes and differences just like they respond to acne and wrinkles: we can’t handle them. We’re not strong enough to deal with them. So instead of embracing them and admitting that they’re normal, we shy away from them. That doesn’t excuse what we’ve done and what we’re continuing to do to this day, of course: it just means that those are issues that we need to find a way to work out of our systems.

Third, as far as advocating for change goes, it seems like Martin Luther King Jr. was on the right track when he chose to respond with peace and love rather than fire and violence. But that’s the best I’ve got.

Well, I’ve shared my guesses. Now it’s your turn. Why are we racist? Why are we determined to judge each other and stereotype one another based on appearances? What can we do to make a positive change?

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

Photo Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/obama-appears-wary-national-guard-ferguson/story?id=25017936

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