Though somewhat unintentional, the arrival of Europeans in North America resulted in the death of 95-114 million aboriginals, through disease and war introduced by the Europeans. (Vaughn) This is where the mistreatment and discrimination of ethnic groups by white people begins. It is said by Eric Williams that, “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery”. However, for many of the first developing years of America, many of the “unfreeze” laborers -? or slaves – were white. Racism began in America, when unfreeze labor became synonymous with black labor and the ideology of white supremacy was established.
With this came the idea that black people are inferior, lesser in every way and should not have NY power. This can be seen in the law that was created, banning marriage between whites and blacks, establishing the idea that black people are dirty, and that the white people of America are inherently better and more deserving then them. As slavery continued and evolved, so did white supremacy, becoming an excuse for the outright mistreatment of black slaves. If black people are biologically an inferior race, they do not need basic human rights.
Eventually however, slaves were no longer profitable, and the slave trade was eliminated during the civil war. Unfortunately, freedom of laves changed racism for the worse, creating competition between the races in which white people had the power and support to win every time. (Self) After slavery, racism in America was forced to adapt. Though black people were now free from the horrors of slavery, they contain due to be denied the same rights as whites. Racial segregation laws acted to reduce African Americans to a lower status and extreme racist propaganda put in place stereotypes that are still an influence today. Frederickson) These factors also contributed to justify the practice of lynching, which took 3,437 black lives. Gibson) The climax of racism came in the form of overtly racism regimes, hitting their extreme in Germany during the Holocaust. The actions of Hitler and the Nazis gave racism a bad name and spurred on moral movement and activism against racism, discrediting the “scientific” racism that had been widely followed in the united States until then. (Frederickson) By the end of the 20th century yet another form of racism appeared.
Racism today is very different from the days of black slavery, or racism regimes, yet it carries that weight behind it. After Nazi Germany, racism became cultural rather than biological. Frederickson) Though not as explicitly, black people still suffer from a system that favors white people, this is called institutionalized racism. It can be seen in the magazines filled With beautiful white superstars, in the lack of ethnic people in positions of power and in the justice system, and in the society, which refuses to admit the presence of racism. Self) In America today, racism is flourishing under the appearance of non-racism and this is where the root of many problems lie. (Frederickson) There has been no shortage of black and ethnic teens dying at the hands of white people in the history of America. However, some stand out more than others. On AUgUSt 9th 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. This death unleashed a nation wide cry for attention to be drawn to the murder of ethnic people by white police officers in America.
Firstly, although there was no lack of witnesses during the shooting of Mike Brown, no concrete conclusion has been reached on what really happened that day. Mike Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were walking in the middle of the street when Darrel Wilson, the police officer, pulled up next to them and told them to get off the road. Footage was release after the shooting of Mike Brown stealing Cigarillos from a nearby convenience store. However, Darrel Wilson had not been informed of the robbery at the time he stopped the two boys. Buchanan) From this point on, the story has been told several ways. According to Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, who was with him at the time, Wilson pulled up beside the boys and told them too “Get the F* ** on the sidewalk”. Johnson says that the officer then attempted to thrust open the door, but because of his proximity to the boys, the door ricocheted off of them and slammed shut. An altercation between Brown and Wilson then allowed, which Johnson described as a “tug of war” in which Wilson was attempting to pull Mike Brown into the car.
During this, the police officer’s gun went off from within the car, one shot striking brown and giving the boys a chance to run away. Johnson recalls that Wilson pursued Brown on foot, shooting him once in the back and then delivering several more shots when Brown turned to face him and had began putting his hands into the air, signaling he had no weapon. (Johnson) Officer Darrel Willow’s testimony was similar at key points, but painted Mike Brown as the threatening “thug” that Wilson thought him to be.
Wilson said that Brown punched him in the face through the car window and then reached into the car for his weapon, this being why it fired from inside the car. Later, Wilson testified that after following Brown on foot, the boy turned around and began to charge at him, making him fear for his life and fire the fatal shots. (Fitzpatrick) These testimonies and those of more than 60 witnesses were heard during the Grand Jury Trial to decide whether or not to indict Darrel Wilson, and for what charge. The testimonies were inconclusive and largely did not match up, though some trends are obvious.
More than 50% said that Mike Brown had is hands up when he was shot whereas more than 50% also testified that Brown reached into Willow’s car during the altercation (see appendix 1). (Santayana) The result of the trial was as the general public suspected: Darrel Wilson was not indicted. However, many people have questioned the techniques used by prosecutor Robert McCullough and the decision of the jury. (Salesman) McCullough did not cross-examine witnesses, largely including Darrel Wilson whom, in a typical grand jury case, would not have testified.
Not only this, but McCullough also did not recommend any charge against Wilson, which is also customary of such a trial. The decision to not indict Darrel Wilson sent a wave of anger and resentment through the black community of America who have been protesting and fighting for their cause since the death of Mike Brown. (Buchanan) Finally, the death of Mike Brown was somewhat of a breaking point for the community in Ferguson, and black and ethnic people across America. Protests, most peaceful but some violent, broke out across the country.
However, the grieving and angry protestors were met with military, tear gas, rubber bullets, tanks, and loaded guns. Compare this to the protests at the Bundy Ranch, where rows of armed white en approached police and the police did not fire one shot, choosing instead to retreat and let the people protest. (Cases) The violent and mistrusting reaction from the police, along with general feelings of anger and unfairness only encouraged protests to turn into riots, though the majority of protestors called for peace. Allocation) In the end, the protests asking for justice for Mike Brown and the countless other black and ethnic youth that have been murdered by white police have also brought the world’s eyes to the issue. IV- Other Cases Michael Brown was not the first unarmed black boy to be killed by a white Alice officer, and he certainly wasn’t the last. Tyranny Martin was 1 7 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighbor watch captain, in Sanford Florida. It was February 26th, 201 2 when Tyranny was killed, and like the case of Marked Brown, it sparked national outrage.
George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder, just like Wilson, and was never taken into custody after claiming self-defense. (Winch) Martin was walking home wearing a grey hooded and carrying a package of skittles and a pop when he was killed. These things became a symbol for the public, rallying gather to destroy the idea that a black boy in a hooded is naturally a “thug’. The death of Tyranny, and the freedom of Zimmerman was the first straw, Mike Brown was not the last. (Smith) November 22nd 2014, 12-year-old Tamari Rice was in a park in Cleveland, Ohio when he was shot by white police officer Timothy Lehmann.
Rice was carrying a toy aircrafts gun, and when a person nearby called 911 to report a boy with a gun that was, “probably fake,” not all the information was relayed to the officers. The police officers pulled up next to the boy and within seconds had shot him fatally. They then tackled and restrained Rice’s sister ho had rushed to his aid and the officers failed to administer first aid until another man arrived on scene, nearly 5 minutes later. Paramedics arrived shortly after and Tamari Rice died the next day from his wounds.
Unlike the shooting of Mike Brown, Rice’s death was caught on camera and the obvious injustice of his death is indisputable. Yet, the officers responsible still told their own versions of the story that did not match up to the video, but were accepted anyways. The continual shooting of black youth by white police officers is an obvious trend and it has been shown that police were 22 more keel to shoot and kill black teens than white teens between 2010 and 201 2 (see Appendix 2). The death of Tamari Rice has continued to fuel the outrage and conviction of those fighting against a racist system. Lopez) V. The Problems & Causes One of the main causes for the not only the targeting of black youth, but also the tension between black communities and police, is a lack of ethnic representation. Black people in America find no comfort in the police force that is supposed to protect them. This is due to the fact that the diversity of police forces across America does not accurately represent the communities they protect. Ferguson Missouri population is 64% black, yet black people make up only 5% of their police. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated phenomenon.
Across America, the average percentage of white officers in local police is 75% (see appendix 3), and the number increases as the population of the city decreases. This does not reflect the diverse reality of present-day America. (Leper) The majority white police forces cause mistrust among the ethnic population of communities, who are not represented within the people who can protect them, but can also take their life. This lack of reflection can also be found in other areas in American society. Aside from popular media, a serious lack Of diversity can be found in the justice system.
In the case of Mike Brown, only 3 jurors were black while the other 9 were white. This ratio is meant to represent the average ratio of black to white in the entirety of the SST. Louis County. However, a grand jury case need only 9 votes to make a decision. This sort of subtle undermining of black people is a large and important reason for the anger and doubt among the black and ethnic communities of America. (Wagner) Finally, the blatant ignorance of even the existence of racism in modern day America is extremely damaging.
The fact that people can’t admit or see the trend of systematic oppression among visible minorities is the biggest aspect working against black people today. Benjamin L. Corey says on his blob that, “If we admit to the existence of systemic racism in America, it makes us guilty. ” Americans are raised on the belief that their country is just, free and a utopia of wealth, religion and technology. However, this view and refusal to acknowledge today’s racism will only make the problem grow. (Corey) It can be expected that in such a complex and deeply historically rooted issue, there are going to be different views and opinions regarding it.
There are many people in America who do not believe that Mike Brown was murdered, that racism still exists in the United States or that the police over reacted at the protests. For these people, though their general opinion may vary, this issue is not as big of a deal as the black community seems to think. (Bates) In a survey done, 76% of black people said that the Mike Brown shooting was part of a broader pattern, whereas only 40% of white people agreed. It is clear that white America does not perceive the issues surrounding this case in the same way as black America.
In general however, white people are not as in tune to the struggles of black people, and they do not experience the same troubles. A 2012 survey found that black people report substantially more problems in their communities than white people (see appendix 4). This divide can account for the lack of sympathy and/or general ignorance of white America concerning the Mike Brown case. (Jones) On the other side of things is ethnic, but more specifically black, America. The recent events on top of a history steeped in racism have also affected the viewpoint of the people most affected by the shootings.
They have begun to emend for change, yet 52% of blacks believe that police-minority relationships will get worse. Clones) Furthermore, the black community has reached out on social media to be heard, creating “#Blackmailer’s”, a chant and slogan for the movement to stop the targeting and shooting of black youth. Though often undermined by white people, who insist “#Alleviators” is the more appropriate thing to say, black America has, for the most part, remained a intimate and supportive community, dedicated to their cause. Craven) In addition, Canada – being the neighbor of the United States – has also had a reaction to the events in America. Protests and gatherings in solidarity with Ferguson have emerged across Canada, and the support is obvious. However, Canada’s view on the events in Ferguson and across America is skewed by the population’s tendency to hold itself in higher regards. Same as Americans, Canadians believe they are in “the land of the free”, but racism and targeting of ethnic youth (specifically First Nation women) occurs here as well.
Though the encouragement and support Canadians offer is sincere, it does not mean that Canada is above racism as well. (Demise) Finally, it is sure that countries around the world are paying close attention o the unrest happening in the United States. Russian media played the events in Ferguson as a sort of karma for America’s interference in Ukraine. Russian’s human rights ombudsman also accused the United States of hypocrisy and serial failure. China foreign ministry used the current events as an opportunity to make a hit at Washington.
However, she also used it as a call to arms for the collaboration and improvement of human rights around the world. Finally, activists in Egypt drew parallels between Ferguson and recent events in Cairo, where they have dealt with police brutality since the revolution in 201 1. The similarities are astounding and it is clear that all eyes are on America, whether it be to exploit their failures, or learn from them. (Harding) VII. Next steps & Solutions The problems brought up bathe shooting of Mike Brown cannot be cured overnight.
However, if the right actions are taken and people stand up for what is right, change can happen. First of all, justice should be met for the men who murdered innocent boys. Whether that means being found guilty for murder, or at least getting indicted, these men have killed innocent people for no good reason, and that should at least be investigated. Not only that, but the systems in which they are judged should not be made in their favor, like the grand jury case of Darrel Wilson. Secondly, the police forces around the United States must change.
Not only do they need to become more diverse, but their training also lacks serious lessons about targeting ethnic youth, and being too liberal with their guns. As for the root of the problem, racism must be demolished in America. Though it has been woven tightly into society over hundreds of years, it is not an inherent idea. Racism was introduced, taught and developed. This means that it can be undone. All of these issues interconnect, and it is through all of them working together that the American society as a whole may change.
Jackson) In conclusion, it is clear that there is a subtle and intricate racism within the police system of America, and the targeting of ethnic youth has and will continue to result in death if change does not OCCUr. There are endless cases that can be reviewed, which will demonstrate the racist stereotypes acted upon by American police. Different points of view highlight the aspects of these events that make them so influential and the counteracting of some only reinforce the message.