A very brief word on Ferguson

by mckennabailey

If you’re reading this blog after seeing the title, you’re either:

A. My mother who reads anything I write, or

B. Someone from outside the US who doesn’t immediately which Ferguson I’m talking about.

If you don’t fall into those two categories and are still reading, I salute you. Chances are you’ve heard just about all you can hear with this story and you’re taking a chance that my small comment won’t be the thing that puts you over the edge. I promise not to be tyrannical.

Side note: for those who don’t know but want to learn about which specific Ferguson I’m referring to, Google Ferguson, MO + riots and watch as results pour in from anyone with an opinion.

I’m not interested in going over the facts of what happened that night, nor what has unfolded since that night. There are plenty of people more eloquent  – and frankly educated – who can do that. But I do have one suggestion I’d like to offer as a conversation topic while we await the decision of the trial (which will likely happen this afternoon). Can we please change the conversation from a Race issue to a Power issue?

Now, lest you think I’m someone from Fox News, let me say unequivocally, I do believe racism exists. How could it not? In America, there are people who are alive and well who were also alive during segregation – it would be nearly impossible for racism not to linger. I also believe that millions of individuals are profiled, unfairly, every day because of the acts of few – no matter which race you’re talking about. But certainly it gets worse the darker the skin gets. I was a Mexican-American college girl living in Arizona during the SB-1080 debacle. And while I never felt any sliver of an immediate threat, I could see the beginning tile of the domino effect that happens for other people.

But here’s the thing about racism – you can’t really change it retroactively. If a person is racist, they’re probably going to remain racist. Maybe through education and exposure, they can become less intolerant. But it seems that if a person’s inclination is to think less of people from a certain race, I don’t know of an instance where that ever changed completely. It’s like trying to convert a democrat into a republican, but harder.

What we can change, however, is the corruption that happens when people crave power above all else. Police seem to be a very easy target for an example of power-hungry individuals who want to assert dominance over others, but it happens all the time. It’s an animalistic urge of which we haven’t quite rid ourselves yet. At it’s best, this urge is friendly competition where everyone walks away the better. At it’s worst, it’s kids dead in the streets. The anger and the violence are all a result of people wanting to feel powerful. And the lack of consequences are a result of corruption in the systems to which these people – and all of us, as people – belong.

So instead of screaming back and forth, arguing over whether someone is or isn’t a racist, let’s start talking about the systems of deepest corruption. And then we can try to find a solution for it so that each incident of violence is tried fairly and justice is served correctly. But more importantly, so that these senseless acts of violence can stop altogether. It’s a complicated and difficult problem to solve, but it’s much easier than trying to inflict consequences on a person for being racist in America – the land of the free.

I certainly don’t have any answers, but if I can get one person to start a conversation differently, I think I added to the solution instead of the problem at least.

I’m grateful you read this far. I’ll be back on Wednesday.