Ferguson And The Bigger Crises: Black, Male, Young And Endangered

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Will we allow Michael Brown to become another mere statistic?

After NYPD's Thomas Shea shot and killed an unarmed boy, his attorney Jacob Evseroff was quoted by the NY Daily News at the time as saying Mr. Shea was "protecting us from the animals who roam our streets".

The "animal" reference was to Clifford Glover, a 91 pounds 10 year old 4th grader who was gunned down on the streets of Brooklyn on April 28, 1973. The policegunman is said to have hollered "you sons of bitches" as he shot little Clifford. Fast forward past Amadou Diallo, Trayvon Martin and countless other young blacks who lost their lives at the hands of the Police to 2014, a Ferguson white Police officer kills an unarmed Black teenager.

The police officer justifies his action from fear of a big Black man saying he felt like a 5 year old facing Hulk Hogan although their heights and weights were not that far apart. Yet more Black lives were wasted within weeks of Michael Brown's shooting, this time in Cleveland where a 12 year old boy playing with his toy gun was shot dead by the Cleveland Police and in Brooklyn an unarmed young Black man was shot in the stairways of a building where he lived.

From the streets of Brooklyn to Fruitvale Station in the Bay area California, from Sanford, Florida to Cleveland, Ohio and cities and States in between, the lives of many innocent young Blacks are being snuffed out by the very people sworn to protect them. Invariably the victims are portrayed as no good, often described in animal terms, dehumanized and demonized making their killing acceptable, protecting "us" from "them".

Those who are lucky enough to make it to adulthood stand a 1 in 3 lifetime probability of landing in jail. Close to a million are incarcerated according to NAACP fact sheet. Disparities in conviction and incarceration rates between Whites and Blacks are staggering and it is not unusual for Black men to be picked up, wrongly convicted and sentenced to long terms in jail for crimes they did not commit.

The case of the Central Park 5, ages 14 to 16 is illustrative. They were picked up and quickly convicted for the rape of the Central Park jogger. They were thenportrayed in the New York tabloids as "wolfpacks." Wilding entered our lexicon to suggest wild animals descending from Harlem on Central Park looking for their prey. They were released after being robbed of their youth and years of their most productive lives behind bars when the real perpetrator of the crime confessed.

The mass incarceration of Black men also had the effect of disenfranchising them by denying their basic civil right as citizens, the right to vote. A century and half after emancipation proclamation and half a century after the voting rights act, many states are finding new ways to disenfranchise by passing laws that in effect would restrict minority voter participation.

One might rightfully wonder why is this happening. Two seemingly irreconcilable social forces on a collision course: White man's privilege and power vs Black man's resistance and struggle for equality. Despite the laws in the books, the system often fails to deliver justice .

After each shooting, after each miscarriage of justice and each voting irregularity affecting Black voters, we protest, we march, we go to the courts seeking justice. Political pundits pontificate making the usual platitudes about the racial disparities; the need for conversation between the races, a conversation that never occurs because the issue is too scary to the establishment to confront.

"Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose" as the French would say. Even the most famous Black academic, Professor Gates of Harvard was not spared the racist arm of law enforcement when he was handcuffed as he was entering his home in an affluent neighborhood.

This garnered a lot of media attention. Rather than use this as an opportunity to take an indepth look at our broken justice system as a result of longstanding and deep seated systemic racism, our first elected Black president brought the professor and the policeman who handcuffed and humiliated him to come together and resolve their differences over beer, as if the professor had a role in fomenting the incident and his own humiliation.

During these weeks of peaceful demonstration for justice reminiscent of the the Selma to Montgomery marches, what is needed is not more of the same but a determined relentless demand for a wholesale dismantling of a broken criminal justice system, an honest look at institutional racism that tends to perpetuate White power and privilege and victimize minorities.

A good start for our white fellow citizens will be to read the series of thoughtful op ed articles by Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times "When whites just don't get it." Perhaps then the "conversation" could begin.

Dinesh d'Souza notwithstanding, end of racism is not in sight and we are not a post racial society as some conservative commentators would have us believe.

It is an attempt to obfuscate the issue and avoid dealing with the elephant in the room in American body politic.

 

Nurhussein, MD, a retired physician is Chairman

United African Congress

 

Editor's Note: Please sign and share the Petition demanding that the Department of Justice bring charges against Darren Wilson for violating Michael Brown's civil rights

- See more at: http://www.blackstarnews.com/us-politics/justice/beyond-michael-browns-e...

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