Ferguson reveals US police's true colors

Updated: 2014-08-27 06:59

By Darnell Gardner Jr(China Daily)

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There is no evidence to prove that the rate of crime among blacks is higher than whites, and yet the proportion of non-whites is much higher in US prisons. Forty percent of American prisoners are black when only about 13 percent of the US population is of African ancestry. And US Bureau of Justice figures show that black motorists are more than twice likely to be arrested during a routine traffic stop than their white counterparts. Black motorists are also three times more likely to be searched during the process than whites.

A Namibian friend told me last week: "Americans are so quick to judge other nations, but they rarely talk about their own problems." Her words, true as they were, gave me pause. The US is an incredibly diverse but deeply fragmented nation, and its institutions continue to reinforce age-old segregationist policies and agendas.

We so often claim to be a nation that values equality. But how can we do so when so many of us refuse to acknowledge the fact that, after nearly 250 years, America is still unequal for the vast majority of its citizens without the right color of skin?

In what sort of society does a 9-year-old have to wonder whether police are his/her enemies or not? And in what sort of society does a 23-year-old feel criminalized for simply having dark skin?

The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, triggered by the killing of an 18-year-old black, Michael Brown, by a white police officer, shows that there continues to be a gulf of trust between the black community and law enforcement officers. My question to the United States is: Will you allow another generation of black and brown children to grow up fearing those who've sworn an oath to protect them?

The author is a copy editor with 21st Century English Education Media of China Daily.

(China Daily 08/27/2014 page9)

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