The shooting of young unarmed black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri has sparked outrage across the nation. The fact that this young man was shot and killed by a white police officer is just one specific case that indicates a greater problem that exists in America: closeted racism.

 

This term “racism” is synonymous with Jim Crowe laws in the early 1900s and with the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s. Although we would like to think that racism died long ago with the outdated laws and policies that kept black and white separate, it goes beyond laws; it is quite simply a mentality, a misinformed association, that lives on and manifests itself in detrimental ways in our society. Beyond the ignorance and bigotry that accompanies this type of profiling, the “race issue,” as some are now calling it, is especially detrimental when it infiltrates and dictates the way our officials enforce the law. It is particularly concerning when the group of people who are continually targeted all happen to be of the same race.

 

The tragic incident that occurred in Ferguson a few weeks ago is indicative of the state of the executive branch of our government, the law enforcement, and the frightening level of ignorance concerning the issue of race in our society. Many news stations have been attempting to brush over the issue and call out mainstream media coverage for “pulling the race card” and forcing race into the equation when, according to them, it apparently plays no part in the case at all. As pointed out by Jon Stewart in a recent episode of “The Daily Show,” race is always a factor. Race is not a card that can be “pulled” at will. It is always there.

 

 

You could argue until you’re blue in the face with those who claim that race is a non-issue in America. You could bring up racial profiling in employment, the prison industrial complex, the education system, law enforcement etc. for days and days. But it is most important to first simply acknowledge race as a factor in the way we treat issues and the issues themselves. If we do not acknowledge that race is an issue, it cannot be addressed and redressed properly. Those who claim that they “don’t see color” are contributing to a larger, more insidious problem that persists in America. The problem with a colorblind mentality is that ignoring race as a factor in these complex societal issues does not resolve the issue; it simply perpetuates the racism that so clearly exists.

 

With that said, it is time for us to move forward with the knowledge that race does, in fact, affect the framing of the story of the shooting of Michael Brown, and it does, in fact, affect the way that many law enforcers and officials act in the line of duty. It is time to address the problem instead of remaining in the bubble of denial we have designed for ourselves; the one that says that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and that everyone inside of our country gets equal opportunity and equal treatment, because in many ways, unfortunately, this is not true.

 

Care to share your thoughts on the Ferguson case and the role of race in America? Post in the comments below or shoot me a tweet @JenksUOhMeASoda