Opinion

Change and reconciliation: a call to end racial discrimination

Over three months have passed since Michael Brown was shot by Darren Wilson, a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. There is substantial evidence to safely say that Brown was a true victim, not of a confusion in suspects at a close-by gas station robbery, but of a racial profiling. Wilson is still not in jail.

To start the conversation, I feel I have to clarify a few things up front.

1: Not all Caucasians or “white people” are racists. We all know this. Minorities know this. However, it does not change the damage that the few have done and it does not stop minorities from being sensitive.

2: This column is not to blame an ethnic group of people or accuse them. I do not condone racism in any form, even when it comes from minorities.

With that clarified, I will continue.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, one of many St. Louis protests sparked by the remembrance of Michael Brown’s death and fueled further by the shooting of Vonderrit Myers Jr. displayed a powerful symbol of the grief and concern of residents and St. Louis. A mirrored coffin was carried over protester’s heads throughout the event. This was not a funeral.

Violence based on racial profiling is nothing new in the U.S., so why are people reacting in such a strong manner to these recent cases? Perhaps one of the most haunting set of words uttered in the midst of this turmoil came from Elizabeth Vega, one of the protesters involved in the St. Louis protests, when she told USA Today, “It’s not our flag.”

People are tired of the systematic discrimination and the justification that comes with such actions, so much so that minorities in the neighborhood feel that as Americans they are severely underrepresented under the star-spangled banner. Vega’s words reflect the exclusion and perception of people whose experiences suggest that the justice system does not provide equality. Details released by each corresponding police department have been released in very inconsistent ways yet the biased public continues to scream, “let’s wait for the evidence.”

Whether people accept it or not, there is white privilege and racial profiling that is manifesting itself in violent ways. Reading and watching news reports prevent us from denying it. There is no longer any benefit to blaming anybody, but instead what needs to start happening is that people need to be challenged when they choose to stay quiet about discrimination before it escalates to such a degree as we have seen in Ferguson and Shaw.

Change has to start, and it has to take place with all people. It’s a call for all Christ followers to promote equality and justice for all, regardless of their race or ethnicity. At the same time we need to understand that a group of people who has systematically been held under for centuries will respond cautiously and even suspiciously towards attempts at reconciliation. Who could honestly and reasonably blame them?

Nov. 15 is the announcement date to decide Wilson’s verdict. Military equipment has been prepared as well as over one hundred thousand dollars worth of riot gear in the Ferguson case alone. The public is tired and the scale of preparation to handle the riots is reflecting it.