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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Systemic Racism, Violence & So-So Media Coverage in the Wake of the Ferguson Decision

One thing should be made abundantly clear, I don't condone indiscriminate and wanton looting, violence or property damage which gets cloaked in a thinly veiled message of civil protest. I am all for raising awareness and getting column inches in the media to highlight your cause. 

But one of the most effective tools, which no one seems to want to use in the mid-term election cycle, is  voting. This was one of the worst turn outs in US history. This fact should be on the minds and agenda's of black community leaders in every nook and cranny of the US. This doesn't mean to diminish the existence of systemic racism which has taken many different guises since the passage of the 14th Constitutional Amendment. Racial profiling exists and it effects all people of color; no matter what their socio-economic status may be.

Let's at least look at some of the issues which have surfaced in the wake of the grand jury's decision not to indict the cop for the shooting and killing of a young black man.

Firstly, this was not a typical grand jury hearing. This was a mock trial and this fact should not be peddled to the American public like snake oil. I contend, and I am not alone, that there was enough conflicting/suspect evidence to have warranted an indictment.

Secondly, it is my understanding that the prosecutor has discretionary mandate on what to bring to trial and what not and to what degree the state will press these charges. This was not done and not explained why it wasn't done. Again, the fact that the prosecutorial discretion is used disproportionately to the detriment of people of color, is one of the tangential reasons the folks in Ferguson and the rest of the US are pissed off. I encourage all of you to read Michelle Alexander's book “The New Jim Crow”.

Thirdly, the media has done a sketchy job covering the Ferguson situation. The old adage, “if it bleeds, it leads”, has proven to be less of a clichĂ© and more of a mantra. No doubt, the last couple of days in Ferguson has been violent and unlawful. Through alternative (read: independently owned) media sources we have been given accounts of peaceful non-violent protests going on simultaneously. This fact is neglected by the big media. Moreover, the rest of the US is protesting peacefully (for the most part) for what they see as systemic racism in all areas of the US. Remember, the protests speak to a much broader issue which effects people of color all over the US; not just Ferguson Missouri.

Lastly, as more people pour over the vast amount of documents/evidence released by the prosecutor, the more we will begin to see the holes and bungles in this case. We should use this tragic event (the horrible loss of a young life and the trauma/PTSD a cop must feel doing his job) and learn to build some bridges and garner some deeper understanding of our American brothers and sisters. 

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