Ferguson… oh, man…

The shooting of an unarmed black youth in Ferguson, MO and the resulting fallout are all over the news and unless you’ve checked your soul at the door somewhere the whole mess has caused you to think about race and racism at least a little bit in the past week or two.  Don’t panic, this isn’t going to be one of my long-winded rants.  It’s going to be a nice, short commentary on this link which you will now read before coming back for my thoughts.  And remember, it’s not my fault if they are long-winded.

I will now hum the “Jeopardy” music while I wait for you.

Are you done?  Did you read the whole thing or did you get so bummed out halfway through that you couldn’t finish?  I made it to the end but I nearly bailed out a couple of times, and I’m really conflicted about what I’m reading there.  So here, briefly, are my thoughts.

First, there is no question in my mind that the instructions those kids are getting are accurate and potentially life-saving.  Even though this is completely alien to my world, I can’t deny that it seems necessary and I can’t tell you how sad this makes me.

Second, no one can deny that blacks are arrested, charged, and convicted at a rate far higher than whites.

Third, blacks have poorer schools, fewer opportunities, and less chance of success (used here in the “self-sufficient and out of jail” sense) than whites.

Fourth, minimum wage jobs do not pay enough to survive or thrive on.  This may seem off-topic but it’s not.

Fifth, 2/3 of black kids grow up in single-parent families.  I’m not judging here, I’m stating fact.  I know that there are single parents and there are single parents, but I’m going to assume that in general, more parents equals more parenting.

Given all that, the phrase “…manifestation of systemic racism and state-sanctioned brutality against black men…” seems inflammatory to me.   Maybe I’m fooling myself.   Maybe this isn’t hyperbole.  But I just can’t help thinking that this is the inevitable result of a cycle of endless poverty that seems to grip the black population disproportionately.  That there is racism there can be no doubt, that it reduces the opportunities for blacks is certain, but not systemically state-sanctioned.

I think of myself as a law-abiding racially tolerant person.  If I was raised by a single parent in poverty while being bombarded with televised input of a materialistic good life that was completely out of reach would I turn my back on a life of crime?  I can’t honestly say that I would.  But if I was cop faced with an endless stream of angry, desperate people with easy access to deadly weapons and most of them were black I would rise above it all and not begin to see a threat in every young black male’s face?   Well, I’m not sure I could do that, either.

Hey, look!  I kept it under

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