It took me 20 minutes to write the first sentence of this article. Trying to figure out a different, more nuanced way of saying that racism lies at the very heart of the American experiment, poisoning all of its appendages, branches and offshoots, from its birth up to this second, is difficult.
The ghostly nature of this malady gives it a formidable camouflage against those who would point it out. Racism permeates everything like a creeping fog that dissipates into a complex version of “We say”, “They say” upon close inspection. We the people of African descent who have experienced an infinite number of racisms over the many generations that our families were on these shores, say racism still exists, is more virulent than ever, and is a real hindrance and detriment to Black folks’ peace of mind. They say it’s not that big a deal and we should stop talking about it.
The same Black folks that are told racism in the past is no longer relevant today, despite obvious data to the contrary, can take some solace in the recent findings of the United States Department of Justice as laid out in the recently released Ferguson Report, which represents a relative rarity. That being the federal government making any findings regarding the institutionalized racist undercurrents that often crash upon communities for years before riots explode onto the nightly news programs.
"This investigation found a community that was deeply polarized; a community where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents," Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters.
.For many in the community, this information is a no-brainer. But for the greater part of the American majority, it isn’t something they’re inclined to even mention, let alone recognize as a determining factor in the lives of a great many people of color in the United States. Education, housing, employment, health, poverty, life expectancy, and the greater likelihood of an individual becoming swallowed by the prison industrial complex.
Michael Brown’s death, his subsequent postmortem criminalization, and the dismissive tone of the D.A. and law enforcement officials alike, led to weeks of protests, rioting and a renewed national debate over inherently racist police practices that unfairly target certain communities, while almost ignoring White offenders altogether.
The 86 page investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr. found that Officer Darren Wilson acted in self-defense by using the same witnesses and forensic evidence that was made available by the District Attorney in Robert McCulloch to the Grand Jury. However, underbelly police practices that effect generation after generation has been brought to the surface to fester and writhe in the light of truth.
As has been mentioned multiple times here at The Shadow League, the town of Ferguson, Missouri is 67 percent Black. However, according to the report, a person of African descent was the victim of the use of force by the police 88 percent of the times when force was used. Also, the report found that African Americans were the victims of police canine bites 100 percent of the time when the race of the victim was known.
This thing called racism touches every aspect of the lives of certain individuals in this country from the cradle to the grave. Yet, feigned ignorance, entitlement and the active engaging in conspiracies to subvert and exploit the rights of certain portions of American society allow it to flourish and survive, despite all noble attempts at its eradication. But with this lengthy, well-funded investigation we find it hiding under state seal, in every court house, and every correctional facility in the nation.
The following stats are just as disrespectful.
85 percent of drivers stopped by police were Black
90 percent of people issued tickets were Black
93 percent of all people arrested were Black.
Additionally, over a three-year examination window, the vast majority of funds collected by the Ferguson Municipal Court were for suspects’ failure to appear in court thus making the local correctional facility a de facto debtor’s jail.
With the death of Michael Brown Jr on August 9, 2014, the citizenry of Ferguson, Missouri expressed their frustration at decades of heavy-handed law enforcement protocols aimed at people of African descent in the town of Ferguson as hopes for a swift and just prosecution of officer Darren Wilson dissipated into despair with each moment he remained free. The failure by a biased District Attorney’s office to present a favorable case to the Grand Jury to indict Wilson was predicted by Jamillah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) months before Darren Wilson went before a Grand Jury.
A commonality among law enforcement officials who consider themselves liberal and those who considered conservative is seemingly a universal belief that Blacks are more likely to commit crimes, thus more deserving of intense police scrutiny. However, the DOJ report found that isn’t so as far as Ferguson traffic stops are concerned. Although drivers of African descent were more than twice as likely to have their vehicles searched during stops, Whites were 26 percent more likely to be carrying contraband.
Also, according to the report, the Ferguson Police Department engaged in a protracted war on poor Black people using petty crimes as a weapon of choice. 95 percent of people accused of walking in the street and 92 percent of people charged with disturbing the peace were Black.
Since the report was released social media has been ablaze with messages akin to “Told you so” regarding the nature that some communities are practicing the tenets of the New Jim Crow. Though Michael Brown, Jr’s killer avoided charges, the findings of the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder set a legal precedent regarding maleficent police practices and the manner in which the ghost of antebellum continues to haunt the descendants of African slaves in modern times. Though there are many who celebrate these findings, Ferguson is a relatively small fish in a sea of state and local municipalities who prey upon poor Black people. Perhaps similar investigations in New York City, Los Angeles or Oakland are in order.
A disheartening and sobering part about the whole thing is somebody had to die in order for these practices to be placed in the national spotlight. And it is likely that others will have to die in order to reveal how these actions are pervasive throughout law enforcement across the United States and, perhaps, the Western world and force federal authorities into ordering change at an institutional level.