White people don’t want to talk about Ferguson. Which is why we need to.

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Let’s be honest. Most of us who are white don’t want to face what’s happening in Ferguson.

We don’t want to be confronted by anything that might disrupt our carefully constructed narrative which says we already took care of racism in this country. I mean, hey, we have a black president, right?

Yet here we are in a country where blacks and whites use marijuana at about the same rate. Guess which group is 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for it? Blacks are significantly more likely to be pulled over, and they are sentenced to more time in jail for the same crimes.

And of course, black young men are more likely to be killed by police (or vigilantes), then tried in the court of public opinion. Kendrec McDade. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. John Crawford. And of course Michael Brown.

We’ve heard all these facts before. They’ve been on a recurring loop since the media began reporting the terrible events in Ferguson. Yet according to a study from the Pew Research Center, only 37 of whites say Michael Brown’s shooting raises racial issues, compared to 80 percent of blacks.

When you see a police force that is 94% white fire tear gas and rubber bullets at a population that is 67% black, it raises racial issues. When the images out of Ferguson look like something out of the Deep South fifty years ago, it raises racial issues. To say otherwise is to live in a particularly toxic form of denial.

The Pew Research Center also asked about the police response to the protests. Only a third of whites think the police went too far in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting.

Only a third think armored vehicles rolling down the streets of Ferguson is going too far.

Only a third think police dressed in camouflage (for some inexplicable reason) waving military-grade assault weapons at unarmed civilians is going too far.

Only a third think lobbing tear gas and stun grenades at civilians—the very citizens they’re supposed to protect—is going too far.

Only a third think threatening reporters and calling protestors “f*****g animals” is going too far.

Only a third think treating black civilians like enemy combatants is going too far.

We have a problem. And the problem is that we won’t even accept that there’s a problem.

There can be no justice, no resolution, no reconciliation until those of us who’ve been blinded by our privilege come out from our gated communities and our artificially constructed realities and listen—really listen—to the experience of being black in America.

We don’t want to talk about Ferguson. Which is precisely why we have to.

Image via Medium.com.

11 thoughts on “White people don’t want to talk about Ferguson. Which is why we need to.

  1. I don’t want to talk about Ferguson, because there’s already been way too much talk about it by those who have no idea of what really happened. I’m all for confronting the race elephant in the room, but rushing to judgment about the racist motives of another person is as bad as being racist ourselves.

    • The race conversation about what is happening in Ferguson goes far beyond the shooting incident and whether the police officer had any form of racial bias. An entire community feels disenfranchised by THEIR police department and it is playing out on TV and social media across the whole nation/world. There is plenty to talk about that NEEDS to be talked about even before the outcome of the shooting investigation.

  2. This is quite true. Although America may have a black president, racism is still a prevalent issue, evident on the streets and in the mentality of many people. Honestly, I don’t think there will be a time when everyone becomes acceptive of another’s skin colour, because history has a tendency to repeat itself. Perceptions, however inaccurate and baseless, stay in place for a very long time, as seen in the Ferguson case.

  3. Nicely stated, Ben.

    It bears mentioning that the rising militarized police state is at work here, besides any racist overtones that are also present.

    Those who boil down the crisis in Ferguson and only find Racism, are missing an even larger part of the story:

    A maturing, metastizing police state in our midst, from seeds we unwisely planted mostly in the 90’s and 2000’s. The military hardware paid for to prosecute the “unwinnable” and amorphous, vaguely defined ‘war on terror’, has come home to our local hometown police departments and county sheriffs.

    Consider:

    The late scholar Chalmers Johnson used to say, “Either give up your empire, or live under it,” referring to the truth that foreign empires tend to lead to domestic police states that then gradually encroach on the rights of ALL citizens, black, white & otherwise.

    Presented for your consideration here, are a couple of excellent articles.

    “Turning America into a War zone, where ‘We The People’ are the enemy”

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/08/john-w-whitehead/youre-the-target/

    “Give Up Your Domestic Empire, or Live Under It”

    http://antiwar.com/blog/2014/08/20/give-up-your-domestic-empire-or-live-under-it/

    I was amongst those many Americans who in 2007 were shocked to hear Dr. Ron Paul explain during the presidential debates – recall his ‘showdown’ with “hero mayor” Rudy Giuliani – the insider details on how we had just reaped the natural consequence of our CIA’s de-stabilizing of the nations of the Middle East in the 1950’s and beyond.

    I did some serious study thereafter – of some of the books on ‘Rudy’s reading list’ that Dr. Paul suggested to bring the ‘Reality Check’ that he briefly highlighted during the debates – and found that a whole nefarious history had been hidden from us, and now, the have no context for the ‘Blowback’ that we are experiencing.

    Anyhow, thanks for your blog, Ben, and doing the work a Christian should do: being Salt & Light, so that the world may be more the place He would have it to be.

    And for us to perceive the duty we have in working to make it so.

    In Christ & Liberty,

    David in East Texas

    • FWIW, I share your concerns about the militarization of the police force. I think we have address it along with the the persistent impact of racial discrimination.

      • Yes, indeed Ben, the racism is also a factor, no doubt.

        My point was, it’s not the only factor, or at least, not the only one at issue here.

        It is at first glance, the most visible factor, true enough.

        Trouble is, it’s also the most polarizing & thus, the easiest one to camp on at the exclusion of others, even more fundamental to ALL our safety & well being.

        I think the even the growth of the police state isn’t the sole issue, rather a symptom.

        It seems that folks of all colors, black, white, brown or red or whatever, looking to humans & human leadership as a secularist hierarchy that is capable of setting things to rights, (absent self government under God, from individuals & families) that empowers the STATE, that is more to blame.

        This tendency to look to the State for solutions & justice, instead of taking individual responsibility at the most fundamental personal level, is the cause of what I’ll term a Statist Idolatry.

        Statist Idolatry knows no bounds. We all have it to some degree. Whites have a certain type, Blacks a slightly different type. Democrats have their version (Unlimited Welfare, anyone ?) Republicans have theirs (Warfare around the Globe ? Unlimited Police powers to keep those ‘losers’ down ?)

        Then the State, once it has gained power, uses that power to separate us into sub-categories of racial divisions, political divisions, gender divisions, nationalist divisions, into competing factions that then war against each other.

        All of that to distract us from the real issue: Trying to live our lives disconnected from God & His ways.

        This is so unwise, and so unnecessarily tragic. Only Christianity & self government under Jesus Christ, has the antidote for this sickness.

        The LORD has made ‘all men from one blood to dwell on the face of the earth’ (Acts 17…..so racism of any type is excluded.

        In fact, after reading Acts 17, Nationalism isn’t looking very promising, either.

        Of course, there is much more to be said of the root causes of the battle between Christ & Caesar, between the ‘City of God’ & the ‘City of Man’.

        Let’s just say that our most fundamental allegiance is on the line.

        My job as loving father & Christian is to try to discern the struggle & make sure we’re ‘fighting the good fight of faith’ and not being satisfied by mere partisan talking points, that divide us up into camps & take us in circles.

        Thank you for your time, Ben.

        David

  4. The Ferguson story reminds me of Nazi Germany and the short narrative, I don’t remember the author, spoke about when the Nazi’s came after the gypsies, he said nothing, because he wasn’t a gypsy. Then they came after the trade unionists and he said nothing because he wasn’t a member of that group either. Finally, they came after him and there was nobody to stand up for him because everyone else was gone.
    If you don’t walk the entire Gospel, your Christianity is a joke.

  5. Pingback: Where are all the women? What my bookshelf says about the lingering effect of patriarchy | Ben Irwin

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