Monday, August 18, 2014

National Guard, does it address the roots?

This is in response to Missouri's governor ordering the National Guard to Ferguson in response to the continuing protests, after imposing a curfew on the residents, and having questions.

I don't have enough information, I doubt any people not on site do either, to say what happened to the young man who's death sparked the protests. The New York Times reports the initial autopsy shows he was shot six times by the officer, which seems excessive, but the circumstances remain unknown to us.

The National Guard has at best cursory training in crowd and riot control. We have some history of their use for this;  Kent State is obvious, Detroit, Los Angeles. The governor of Missouri had in the past few hours that they would be used for specific duties, to guard the control center of the state police.

I'm assuming they have live ammo. I expect some of them might be as young as 18. It's not the Rangers, older, experienced soldiers. The possibilities of things going south are endless. So instead, perhaps we can look at why a community would erupt like this. Here's my opinion:

It's about race. All these years later, after the civil war, segregation, integration in schools, equal opportunity, it's about race. Nothing has changed insofar as we're dealing with it today, it's aftermath in some cases. We, white people, lead our lives. They, black (hispanic and asian to a lesser degree) live theirs. The two don't often intersect, and when they do it sometimes is awkward.

150 years after abolishing slavery we're still mired in the same issue. We've gone from it being legal to own another human being, able to do what we want with them, not to sudden acceptance. Until 55 years ago, if a white person walked up to and killed a black man, in most states they would be aquitted by a jury of their peers. Their peers were all white, it being difficult to impossible for blacks to participate in either the voting process or and judicial ruling as a jury.

From there, in the last few decades to real estate blockages to blacks, to school boards, city councils, police force being dominatly white in a black majority community: Ferguson.  So here we are, facing the same issues because the white community, in part, has not really changed. They've adapted. Can't block them one way, find another way. The issue of why we (those whites who don't) can't accept them as equals, as we are making slow strides with hispanics and asians, remains unadressed.

How we change things, quicken the change, is beyond me.

Langston Hughes in his poem Harlem, opened with "What happens to a dream deferred?", the last line gave the answer...."does it explode?"


  1. A powder keg. And the videos of what really happened are heart-breaking.



    1. I haven't seen any video's of what 'really happened', so I don't know. I know it's all tragic.

  2. Exploded and here's the shrapnel...

    You're right, we neither have all the facts or that there is a quick and easy answer to the underlying issue.

    1. Would have been resolved decades ago, eh?

  3. Kareem Abdul Jabbar wrote a very thoughtful article about the current tragic situation in Ferguson.

    1. Read it, didn't watch the video. He's correct.

  4. I agree with you.

    And so far, we don't have all the facts, and yet too many people -- many of them on FB -- have firm and boisterous opinions on what happened and why.

    We are a foolish and arrogant lot...


  5. It is discouraging. The overlayer of poverty on ancient prejudices and stereotypes. Still I'm optimistic for the future. The last several decades teaching high school students have made me that way.....

  6. It is all so sad and it is totally about race. The more things change, the more they stay the same.