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I Am White

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I am white. And I am ashamed. Being white, I have never been oppressed and treated poorly because of my race to the extent that black people have been and continue to be. This past summer, a young man, a recent high school graduate, Michael Brown, was shot six times by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

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Missouri was a Confederate state and is stereotypically very conservative. Since Brown’s death, peaceful protests have turned into what the police force describes as riots. But all in all, I am white, I live nearly 800 miles away, so why should I care?

Let me give you a couple of reasons…

Ferguson

It is important to note that Brown’s death did not completely cause the protests and riots. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Racial tensions existed in Ferguson long, long before this specific incident.

Every location on Earth has had issues of racial tension. Even the location in which you are reading this, has a history of racism.  If you look up “racism” on Wikipedia you get an assortment of “racism in…” for various regions. However, the Mayor of Ferguson denies that racial tensions exist in his county.  It was Nelson Mandela that said, “We have to ensure the healing of the wounds inflicted on all our people across the great dividing line imposed on our society by centuries of colonialism and apartheid.” In short, after years and years of racism and oppression, healing time is need as opposed to more racism.

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Many people believe this issue of racism is gone: it very much is still in existence. Of course, 100 years ago there was a much bigger sense of white supremacy than there is now but that doesn’t take away from the fact that my Grandfather supports Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown. There is also a campaign raising money for Wilson, so far it has raised over $129,000 and is still growing.

The entire police force in a county that is more than 50% black is made up almost entirely of white people. The governor is white, the mayor is white. Speaking from personal experience, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fully understand the emotions and oppression people of color consistently face. Being white, I can never understand what people of color go through because I am privileged by society to be exempt from these acts, such as the ones that occurred in Ferguson.

 

This event may not be because of racism, but rather racial profiling. I don’t believe Wilson fired his gun because he hates black people. He fired his gun because he assumed Brown did something illegal because he was black. There is a difference between unjustified hatred and assumption.

 

This is not the first high profile case of white on black racism. This is not even the first such case of white on black racism this year. Most of us have heard the heart-shattering story of Trayvon Martin and how he was unarmed without having committed any crimes, was shot by a policeman wannabe and Martin’s killer was not put in prison. The most important question here isn’t why should we care, it’s why do we let this keep happening?

furgoson

 

If it wasn’t a white cop shooting a black person, it would still be a adult cop shooting a teenager. I believe this is the most relatable reason for many of us to care. It is fair to say that the majority of teenagers are followed in shops because of fear of shoplifting. Teenage drivers are pulled over more often because of fear of reckless driving. Perhaps I’m biased because I am a teenager myself, but adolescents as a whole are second-class citizens. However, minorities, such as people who are black, are treated as second-class citizens their entire lives.

It is important to realize this is not a war on police enforcement, it is a war on militarized police enforcement. Not all police officers are bad people, in fact, most are nice, genuine people. Cops who shoot someone with their hands in the air are bad people. Police forces have tanks now. We live in the United States of America, not Gaza. Small town police forces do not need the same supplies and less than half the training of the military. However, if we take away militarism, the issue of racism would still stand because taking away guns does not take away opinions.

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This isn’t just an issue of race, it’s an issue of police brutality. A handful of us at Centaurus have either witnessed or been a victim of police misusing their authority. Wilson is a public example of this.

Now, for many of us, the news reports of Ferguson have decreased and bigger events have surfaced. And while I won’t deny that there are countless other events going on in the world that deserve their own air time, Ferguson isn’t over. Protests are going on as you read this, memorials are being set up just to be burned down by white supremacists. Do not forget Ferguson. Ferguson lives and breathes in all of us. It is up to us as individuals to decide what side of the argument to feed, what opinions we will allow to blossom and grow, what to let happen and what to fight.

Frguson

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1 Comment

One Response to “I Am White”

  1. Nate P. on December 12th, 2014 12:39 pm

    I honestly do not like the way this article starts out. Saying “I am white. And I am ashamed” because a other people of the same skin color as you have committed egregious crimes perpetrates the same racism that your article is condemning. You should be proud of your skin color (not in a “I’m better than you” sorta way, but a “I’m happy being me” sorta way), and not feel ashamed to be the way you are. Sure, you have never been on the receiving end of intense racism, but you have also never intentionally caused it (or so I hope). There are things you can do to reduce racism, and letting people know that it is happening is a great way, but feeling ashamed, or making other people ashamed because of their skin color is just absurd. To put this ridiculousness in perspective, imagine labeling all Germans, or people of German decent as Nazis just because their home country was the spawning ground for the holocaust.

    Honestly, I am a little offended by this article.

    – Nate

    [Reply]

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