Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Shadow of American Slavery is on Ferguson.

     The shooting and death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August has been perceived a number of ways, but race and social inequality must be factored into the discussion.  The issue of race relations in the United States stems from America's more shameful any chapters of its history involving institutionalized slavery, Jim Crow, and social inequality caused by a capitalist infrastructure that places profit motives above human dignity.  Many more privileged Americans prefer to believe that social inequality does not exist, but this attitude only deepens the division between the privileged and the poor.  Ignoring a problem does not solve it and diverging resources to the poorest of society, not as a handout but a hand-up, improves the quality of life for everyone in that society.  The protests in Ferguson represents the overall sentiment of the African-American community toward the US government.

     The history of institutionalized slavery in America and the Jim Crow laws that followed has sewn seeds of distrust among African-Americans and their government, adding to that distrust is the fact that African-Americans are more likely to be arrested for a non-violent crime than a person a lighter skin tone.  A biased justice system is not justice and, because of this, African-Americans feel abandoned by the US government and alienated by American society.

      The election of Barack Hussein Obama to the US presidency was a symbolic action for Americans, it was a step toward a more diverse, and open-minded society.  But we still have a long way to go toward a society with no racism (if that is even possible).  If Americans want to work toward the goal of a society with no racism, then it is going to take a collective effort. The president is one person within a large bureaucracy that is very susceptible to corruption.

     The recent unrest in Ferguson has also shed some light on another issue that is prevalent, not just in America, but throughout the world: the tension between journalists and police forces.  While the nature of the profession of journalism is centered around obtaining information even if it is at the expense of another person or group, authority professionals need to respect the need for journalism in an open, democratic society.  A the goal of journalism is to simply report the truth and it is left to the public to sort out the truth.  When authority figures start to intimidate journalists in an attempt to prevent the public from receiving factual information, that is a sign of a dying democracy.  Information must be free and open to the public in any democratic society.

     I believe that journalism is the most important job in a democratic society.  It stems from one of the founding ideals of Western civilization: that every individual deserves the right of free expression of his or her own ideas and morals, the idea that individuals can come to together and improve their society based on what the people need, the idea that we should not kill the messenger.  Journalism is how people improve their environment by the way of research and information distribution.  If the people know the truth, they can respond accordingly given a proper discourse.  Americans overcame their sin of institutionalized slavery by creating a narrative that allowed us to see all variations of human beings as equal; that narrative is still being written and it will continue to be written as humans continue to evolve into a more globalized, diverse, and tolerant species.  I believe that a better world is possible – a world where humans are no longer fighting amongst themselves over petty differences.  Journalism is how we get to that point. 

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