America’s Race Relation in the Eye of American’s PoliceArticles/Opinion, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
The United States of America USA is by far one of the most multi-racial communities in the world, and following closely by other countries like Britain, France and Italy. These are countries with history of slave traders and forced labour colonial masters in plantations to advance their economies in the earlier economic revolutions. The Africans were the victims most often. Nevertheless the whole of America is a collection of immigrants and coming from everywhere all over the world. Whilst the coloured are addressed as African Americans those from Europe are simply referred to as white Americans instead of European Americans, Russian Americans or British Americans. The platform of address gives the notion of originality of indigenes or non-indigenes. All Americans are immigrants except the Indian Americans that were found already living in the so called New World.
The new underlying factor on racial discrimination, especially against coloured usually called African Americans, is their emerging economic and political emancipation. Gradually but surely the coloured, Latinos and others are becoming influential and leaving the servant-hood class. We would recall that Obama and his like did not emerge only suddenly but the groundwork of many human right organizations that have been working several decades. Therefore, and even though we may not immediately see another Obama replacing the current one in the White House, the deed has been done and the die cast. The Obama organizers are not about to give up on race relations and politics, but empowered by the shooting of a Michael Brown.
On the other hand the American whites, especially those in the Tea Party and Republicans would want us to believe that every coloured person, other than the whites, is evil and should be shot at any opportunity. The police in America have given total impunity to kill any African American and could not be brought to justice. American laws protect them by providing the power to kill and with the immunity against prosecution. Hence the shooting of Michael Brown that occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson Missouri a remote suburb of St. Louis is not accidental but part of the ground design whose end is yet unfolding. Michael Brown was only an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white American policeman Darren Wilson, 28-year-old. The disputed circumstances of the shooting and the resultant protests and civil unrest has received considerable attention in the United States and here in Africa. Unfortunately the debate on the death of this young man in the hand of another young police officer is going in the wrong direction by pursuing the “Use of Force Doctrine” rather than race “Race Relation Doctrine”.
The death of Michael Brown occurred when he and his friend Dorian Johnson were walking down the middle of the street, shortly after stealing a box of cigars from a convenient store. Then the police officer Wilson drove up and told them to move to the sidewalk. Brown and Wilson struggled through the window of the police vehicle until Wilson’s gun was fired as a result of the struggle. Brown and Johnson then fled in different directions, with Wilson in pursuit of Brown. Wilson shot Brown six times, killing him. Witness reports differ as to whether and when Brown had his hands raised, and whether he was moving toward Wilson, when the final shots were fired. The shooting has sparked protests and unrest; in part due to the belief among many that Brown was surrendering, as well as longstanding racial tensions between the majority-black in Ferguson community and the majority-white city government and police in America. The response of area police agencies in dealing with the protests received significant criticism from the media and the general public except from the American police force. Our concerns include the racial underlying factors, the widening inequalities that are also affecting every segment of America society including the white communities.
We would like our readers to understand that America has about 2 million people in their many prisons and coloured people make the majority of the inmates. We also like to emphasize that whilst the police in America have inherent low expectation of the African Americans they are intimidated by the achievements of some African Americans in recent time. It will also be interesting to note the dynamism in the population distribution in America, UK and Europe in general. At the time Martin Luther King was campaigning for racial equality in America in the 1960s the Black to White ratio was about 20 to 80. This ratio has moved close to 40 to 60 only and it is closing up because of mixed marriages and further influx of immigrants with large family sizes from Blacks. The economic distribution is more complex to add to this equation of confusion in America and European politics.
In America and Europe the so called wealthy whites got their status only by inheriting same whereas the upcoming blacks achieve that status by working really hard. The growing hatred for blacks cannot be analyzed without mentioning the fear and apprehension by the whites to seeing their perceived “kingdom of doing nothing but getting rich” diminishing overnight”. When the people you discriminate and disregard begin to make inroads to zones classified for only selective privileged the American whites and its police force seem uncomfortable. Michael Brown might be guilty but the police in America had no right to kill him without trial. Right now we have statements from the young police officer Wilson but would never have any statement from Michael Brown killed without an opportunity to defend himself.
Our advice to the Tea Party, Republicans and every American segment is that they should clothe self with cotton that can endure in racial tolerance threshold because the population dynamism is different from what they inherited or what their history books describe. President Obama is not black enough for most Black Americans but his mother was the actual Black woman in the eye of Africans instead of his Kenya father. His mother was quite a loving and tolerant white woman and brought up a child from an African student where her child is now in the white House. The American police and its laws must move in the direction of love and equality, believing that everyone is to have a fair trial. The shooting of Michael Brown is just a pointer because we have many similar shootings all over America where the police officers are performing less than expected. If there is any urgent need today for the American society it is a good course on “Forging Acceptable Racial Harmony for the 21st Century”. This course is still beyond the American Police Force who still behaves in the sense that every black is to be shot at sight for whatever. Whereas we wish to be proud of the American models but cases like Michael Brown teach us that there is a lot to be done even in the United States of America on human rights, inequalities, race relation, policing in the 21st century, economic empowerment and others.
Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi
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