Ferguson ignites race discussion: Students should listen with sincerity

A few months ago, no one knew or cared about the town of Ferguson, Mo. It was a suburb of St. Louis with just over 20,000 people, but on Aug. 9 it became a place of racial tension, tragedy and violence the next day. The shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson set off waves of protests across the nation.

After three months of an unusually long and detailed Grand Jury examination and masses of media attention, the jurors decided not to indict Wilson. The decision sparked more protests, some violent and most peaceful, and once again forced Americans to look at racism in the land of the free.

Some say racism is over. Others complain that all they see in the news is Michael Brown. Some deny the fact that there is a disturbing number of young black men shot and killed by police officers in this country. If you are one of these people, or if you don’t understand what the big deal is about Ferguson, then we The Threefold Advocate want to help you understand.

It is obvious that racism is still a severe problem in America, and when it comes to police shootings, the numbers speak for themselves. According to USA Today, more than twice as many black youths were shot by police than white youths over a seven-year period.

In a study by independent non-profit ProPublica, researchers found that young black males are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white males of the same age group. These findings support the idea that Michael Brown’s death was not an isolated incident or freak accident. It was another tragedy in a historical pattern of violence.

We The Threefold Advocate urge you to not dismiss these facts. We ask you to listen sincerely to the problems in the world — especially if you think they have nothing to do with you.

The vast majority of students at John Brown University are white. Understanding their black brothers and sisters is difficult and impossible to an extent. Different people’s experiences give them unique perspectives on various issues. However, it is essential that white students do not dismiss the concerns, experiences or stories of minority students. Just because few people are complaining does not mean there is not a problem.

The issues of police shootings and racism are highly complex, with each instance having different factors. However, the fact that so many young black men are shot and killed is unacceptable. The fact that racial profiling is still an issue is disturbing. It is clear that something in our justice system is broken and desperately needs fixing.

As Christians, we tend to turn the other way when faced with something unsightly or controversial. We don’t like to tarnish our shiny Christian image with topics like racism, divorce, suicide and mental health. However, we more than anyone should be at the forefront of working to help victims of these problems.

We The Threefold Advocate encourage you not to get caught up in who was right and who was wrong in the Ferguson tragedy. Instead, it is important to recognize that Ferguson is another instance of a much larger problem. In order to help improve our society, we must have the knowledge and courage to speak up when injustice occurs.