In Ferguson, Nothing New

Demonstrators raise their hands while protesting against the killing of teenager Michael BrownMissouri riot policeShort post today:

As I read and watch all of the coverage of the protests against the police in reaction to the shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, a suburb of St. Louis, I keep looking for some new aspect of  of which to right about. But here is the problem: there is nothing new. The murder of a young, unarmed black man or teen is nothing new, the suppression of African-American protest rights are nothing new. Since the abolition of slavery by the Emancipation Proclamation, blacks have been fighting the good-fight to obtain equal rights. Yet despite of having an African-American President, like so many black-oppression deniers point to, they have such a long way to go. Or as I should have put it, we have such a long way to go. We all need to be fighting the good-fight and whites need to “move,” too.




2 thoughts on “In Ferguson, Nothing New

  1. Actually, amidst all the “nothing new” in Ferguson there are indeed some “updated old” to observe. As with every single one of these kinds of tragic events what you see on the news is just the surface; the problem(s) has been festering. Now, I’m an older white guy so likely some of my comments will likely be dismissed as something Archie Bunker might say (sorry, I’m not THAT bad), because as we all know, white people have NO idea what black Americans go through in life. But given all that, here’s some points from an old white guy.

    1. While common sense suggests that stealing a box of cigars is not worth a “death penalty”, the problem, as being stated by the black community, is NOT about the young Mr. Brown allegedly (per the camera) being caught in the act of robbing a convenience store but it’s about a white cop shooting a young black American male. Well, ok, then I guess we let the justice system sort out who’s to blame for the killing. I’m not defending the cop because I’ve not heard both sides of the story nor am I a judge or jury in the matter. But who accepts responsibility for what Mr. Brown has allegedly done in robbing that store? Did he, or did he not, start the wheels of confrontation with his illegal act? Why does it seem that when young black gentlemen commit some offense that ultimately leads to, what appears to be, an excess in the forceful response of the police, that it’s always less about the crime they committed and more about the response of the police? Mr. Brown would be alive today if he didn’t rob the store in the first place. Maybe the simple lesson to pass on to your kids is…
    “We live in a tough world where security and public safety is a priority and law enforcement people can be stressed to certain limits that might cause lapses in judgement. Police are human too; never assume they are perfect. If you rob a store circumstances and events in a police response may place you in a position where you might be harmed or killed. Don’t do the crime and you’ll likely live a longer time.” Seems to me that’s good advice for black OR white kids.

    2. The seeds of discontent in Ferguson are NOT all over the U.S., BUT… are still reflective of many economically depressed areas, cities, and towns. The news is reporting that Ferguson has nearly 24% unemployment, is 63% black American, has a police force with only 3 black Americans, and everyone in elected government is white. I think the problem is very apparent that the feeling of political oppression has strong roots in economic depression. There’s already community disenchantment with economic class and likely educational opportunities. One might ask, if black Americans are the voting majority in Ferguson, who are they voting for and why aren’t they better represented? I am guessing it’s economic apathy and, (dare I say this?),a family culture that does not support continuing education nor a strong joint parental influence.

    3. One thing about growing old is that you get to witness the passing of time and events and from that one can compare to present times. No question that in certain aspects of American life there are social elements, or pockets, of what one might call “black oppression”; real white people who hate black people. BUT (another big “but”)… having witnessed the struggle for civil rights in the 50’s and 60’s and first hand seeing the evidence of black oppression… true black oppression… in the deep South in the 60’s… we have come a long way, baby. King and the other leaders, and those civil rights workers of the day who paid the ultimate price, did change the world. Younger black Americans I come in contact with (20’s, 30’s) during my routine day are far less militant and agitated as they were 30, 40, 50 years ago. They readily get loans for homes and cars… go to college… get decent jobs. I’ve not heard any complaints about great social inequality. Yes, some have been on the receiving end of police profiling and maybe some social racist situation because that will likely always happen.

    4. I echo Bill Cosby’s remarks ( regarding the lack of family values, the poor grammar and spoken language (African-American dialect), and poor emphasis on education. Fixing a lot of these problems begins at home.

    Now, I never oppressed black people, my ancestors never oppressed black people, and I am no racist by anyone’s definition. If there’s a true oppressive situation occurring in the country somewhere then I’m all for justice to ferret out inequality. But maybe it’s time the black American community looks inward.


    1. Thank you dougsboomerrants for your insightful comments and they are much appreciated here at STL. We love a good back-and-forth. So here’s my continuing conversation on your points:

      1) It has been reported that Officer Darren Wilson, the shooter, was unaware that Mr. Brown was a suspect in the cigar-box robbery during the time of the altercation with Brown. Now that news just came out and therefore after your reply. So that is understandable. But I agree with you that stealing some cigars is not worthy of a death sentence without even a fair trial.

      2) I believe, as you stated, that economic apathy is a main reason why African-Americans do not vote. It is built-in to their culture, still, that you should not vote because for it was denied from them for so long with the poll-taxes and threats of violence and such. As for the trend, if you can call it that, regarding the disintegration of the two-parent household in black communities it has to do with the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. in the 1970’s when the jobs went overseas. I am no African-American studies scholar but when your job is lost and a dependence on economic aid becomes more prevalent there need not be a traditional family structure with the husband as the breadwinner of the family. Without good jobs there is no need for a traditional family. As for the lack of importance being put upon the need for secondary-education it is due to the rise of single-mother households and an ingraining in black culture that no one, amongst blacks, has gone to college in their family history and amongst their friends. With single-mothers working to support their families there is little time to help junior with his schoolwork and none of junior’s friends do well in school, so why should he. Also, many young blacks have to go into the workforce after high school to help support their mother and siblings, not to mention a college education requires and accruing of massive student loan debt.

      3) True, things are much better now for African-Americans than during the 50’s and 60’s, but the blacks are still oppressed. Just look at recent studies on hiring discrimination against blacks, the lack of affordability of a college education amongst poor minorities, and mostly at the unbelievable percentage of blacks in the correctional system versus whites or Latinos. I believe that most of the structural oppression is no longer on the books like it was during the Jim Crow days. But now it’s in the details like how the “glass ceiling” keeps women out of corporate boardrooms.

      4) I am aware of Mr. Cosby’s critique of the black community and I think it is well intentioned. But not pulling up your pants should not lead to police stopping and searching you. I think that the issues Cosby emphasizes are not at the root of the problem.


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