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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ferguson: What's Race Got to Do with It?

     In regards to Ferguson I get how some people are still left wondering what all the fuss is about and this is partly why the Ferguson commissions will change nothing.  The protests are not simply about just what happened to Michael Brown.  For me personally every time I hear or read something about the Michael Brown incident it stirs up echoes of what happened to Trayvon Martin and how justice was soooo not served.  As an African-American woman who has nephews that are just a few years older than Trayvon or are quickly nearing the age he was at the time of his death it does cause feelings of anger and frustration to re-emerge within me.  You see, how does one teach those they love most about a perceived threat that is them? 
     When I was a kid I was bit on the ankle by a dog and so now I carry this perception that all dogs pose a threat to me.  I have told my daughter about the time a dog bit me and she has heard me tell the story to others.  For our family it is okay to be friendly to them, to live near them and even get close enough -to those that appear docile- and pet them.  Because despite what I know about what dogs are capable of I do not hold any biases against dogs.  Yet when I see a dog, for me and now my daughter, there is this perceived threat.  If a dog tries to jump on me I feel as if my life is in danger.  Why?  Their growl, their appearance and animated gestures reminds me that this animal poses the threat of harm to me, which brings me back to Ferguson. 
     This problem that is so plainly evident to those that look like me but harder for those who do not will never fully go away.  Trayvon Martin was walking back from a convenience store in the rain, wearing a hoodie and his very appearance was received as a threat by George Zimmerman.  Michael Dunn fired into a vehicle full of black, unarmed teenagers killing one of them (Jordan Davis) after their loud music added to his perception of them as a threat.  Until we find a way to quell this perceived threat in the minds of many about minority males nothing will ever truly change.         
-Tanya Yvonne