If anything, the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., tells us that at least one boistrous segment of society is still hung up on race.
I was hopeful that the election of a black U.S. Senator to the American presidency would once and for all remove the notion that white Americans are racially prejudiced against blacks. I naively thought that it could hardly be stated that Americans are racist after they elected Barack Obama to the highest office in the land.
Unfortunately, it seems that race bating is still a common practice in our nation.
In 1962 Martin Luther King called for us to live in a nation where his "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
I say amen. Preach that message loud and clear. I believe most of us want that and believe, for the most part, that we have attained that. But the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting underscores in unmistakable terms that some in the black community do not feel King's dream has been realized. There seems to be a lingering sensitivity that most of us do not understand. Frankly, it's time to get past it for the sake of our country's future.
That same sensitivity reared its head on my Facebook page recently. Let me explain. My girlfriend and I were at a Carl's Jr. in Modesto for breakfast when two young customers walked in. One had pants hanging so low that his boxers-covered buttocks were visible. To make matters worse, while ordering he bent so far over the counter that his butt pointed square at our direction.
I found his attire offensive and inappropriate and remarked to Sarah, "I don't care what color he is - that would not be proper for anyone."
What I did next remained controversial for days. I pulled out my iPhone and snapped a shot of the scene and posted it to my Facebook page with the simple comment, "Wow. Just wow." It was pure social commentary.
You have to know that from my photo, nobody would be able to identify this individual. One of my Facebook friends found an issue with it. M.C., a friend of my son's, is from Sacramento and also black. While agreeing with me about the clothing, he accused me of being insensitive to the black youth culture and eventually got to the point of calling me a racist. It became a verbal brawl with others defending me. Sixty something comments later, I was unable to explain to him that it wasn't racist; it was a social commentary on my objection of how he was dressed. Two of my sons, who are now liberals, suggested that my way of thinking is too rigid, as if taste has gone out of style. (I'm sure they missed seeing Dad's column railing against young women wearing pajama bottoms out in public places).
My girlfriend Sarah rose to my defense and stated that my motive wasn't close to being based in racism. She aptly noted that the boy's mother and grandmother would have chastised him for inappropriate attire.
At least two Ceres friends on FB agreed with me. M.C. then started attacking those who agreed with me, telling one of my FB friends from Ceres that he could care less about her. I was astounded at his callousness. He bullied me into removing the post or else. He ended up "unfriending" me on FB when I refused to take down the post.
Dr. King called for us to judge one another by the content of character and not skin color. But I am sure King himself would not have approved of youth running around with his pants hanging down to expose his underwear.
If somebody could make something "racist" out of my disdain for a young man hanging his waistband below his privates in public, I suppose it would be easy to make race the issue when a white officer shoots a black suspect, regardless if the shooting was justifiable.
With so much vitriol being flung about Ferguson, let's examine the grand jury findings about the Ferguson shooting of August 9. (You can read it in its entirety at: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/11/us/ferguson-grand-jury-docs/).
Officer Darren Wilson approached Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson who were walking in the middle of the street to the point that cars were moving aside to get around them. Wilson stopped to tell them to get out of the road and Brown replied, "F--- what you have to say." The officer noticed Brown's hand was full of Cigarellos as they continuing walking in the street. A bulletin about a nearby strong-armed robbery came through and Officer Wilson believed he had his man.
Wilson backed up his Chevy Tahoe patrol vehicle and asked Brown to come over. Brown intimidates and defies the officer and shuts the open car door. He then strikes the officer in the face. The officer pulls his .40-caliber handgun and threatens to shoot Brown if he doesn't stand down and Brown replies, "You are too much of a pussy to shoot me," and then grabs the gun, turning it toward the officer's leg inside the patrol vehicle. Wilson testifies: "I can feel his fingers try to get inside the trigger guard with my finger and distinctly remember envisioning a bullet going into my leg." Two shots are fired inside the car after the officer gets the gun pointed away from him.
The officer said Brown looked "like a demon, that's how angry he looked."
The shot startles Brown, who takes off running with Wilson in pursuit. Brown stops and turns to the officer who also stops. Brown is told to halt but Brown charges the officer while reaching his right hand under his shirt. Brown refuses orders to stop and with the prior altercation the officer knows he must fire or be killed by Brown. Shots are fired but Brown keeps coming as the officer is "backpedaling pretty good because I know if he reaches me, he'll kill me."
Nothing about the Ferguson shooting was rooted in race. Had the officer who fired the shots had been black, there would have been no big hoopla from those who made race an issue.
Michael Brown is dead not because of police brutality but because Brown aggressively assaulted an officer, wrestled over his gun and continued doing everything wrong. He might have done well to have watched black comedian Chris Rock's humorous video, "How not to get you a-kicked by the police," which gives pointers like "obey the law," "use common sense," "stop immediately" and "be polite." Brown did none of that.
If police brutality is the real issue here, let's address it on a case by case basis, not by inciting riot and racial discord over a case that had nothing to do with misuse of force. I don't have to remind anyone that Ceres has had problems with overzealous officers in its history- Chris Melton being the most recent - and the system flushed them out.
How do you feel about running? Let Jeff know at firstname.lastname@example.org.