Cervantes: Ferguson’s troubling revelations for race relations


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I will always remember it, where I was when the news reached me. It was a long day for me. I had been up for hours, jumping from airport in my diligent attempt to return to my home state for Thanksgiving. I remember searching through my University of Iowa Hawk Mail account, making sure that I didn’t miss any assignment that my professors were sadistic enough to assign over the brief time I was able to see my family, when I found an email sent to me through a friend of mine.

That is when I read that Darren Wilson, the now infamous police officer involved with the shooting of Michael Brown, was acquitted from all criminal charges brought against him in the past couple of months.

My immediate reaction:  So the war begins.

That is what this is now. The civil unrest that has been built up since August has resulted in cataclysmic descent into complete and total chaos. Buildings have been burned down, and the sound of gunfire in Ferguson was almost as constant as the tweet of a bird over that weekend. Though this conflict is showing signs of dying down, the sudden outbreak of violence still frightens me.

As a Hispanic male, I am not going to pretend to understand the trials and tribulations that black Americans may face in their lives. Personally, I prefer to think of all of us to be people first, American citizens second, and race distinctions somewhere further on the list. With that being said, I support the decision of the grand jury.

Think back to the year 2009, during the trial of Casey Anthony. When she was found not guilty in the murder of her daughter, everyone wanted this woman’s head on a platter. At least, that’s what they said. There was no violent action demonstrated toward Anthony, or the public around her, despite the perceived failure of the justice system. Why is that? Why would the trial the Time dubbed “the social-media trial of the century” have a far less violent aftermath than that of the Michael Brown shooting?

It saddens me to say that race does play a factor.

Despite the decades of social reform, the injustice of discrimination is still etched into the minds of minorities in this nation. This incident has reopened many wounds that, due to the highly-publicized nature of the court proceedings, won’t heal anytime soon.

The very nature of this incident has become based around race rather than the suspicious death of a young adult. I guarantee that if the races of Brown and Wilson were reversed, then Ferguson would not be an international story. I am not saying that it wouldn’t matter, it would, but it would have simply been another story about potential police brutality that would come and go.

That is why I believe that the judicially decided outcome was the best possible outcome. What the jury did was refuse to see black and white and instead every bit of fact that was presented before them. Their decision allowed for the system to do its job. It is depressing to see the reaction to it all though.

Now that all of this has been exposed, how do we recover?

If I truly knew that answer, I would be sleeping easier. As it stands, I find myself tossing and turning, worrying over the deteriorating race relations and the troubles that the town of Ferguson faces. All I can say at the moment is that we must remember that whether we are black or white or red or yellow, we are all people. It is time that we consider ourselves just that.

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