By Cameron M. Bray ’16
As we start a new school year, I recall nostalgically last year’s classes – AP European History and the rest – my Magis retreat and even my Sophomore Service Project.
However, recent events in Ferguson, MO., have got me thinking about last year’s Summit on Human Dignity, the topic being race.
Recently, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black teenager, was shot six times, twice in the head, by white police officer Darren Wilson after an altercation, according to The New York Times.
Before the tragedy, neither Wilson nor Brown were particularly noteworthy people.
Brown did not have a criminal record.
With an otherwise “unremarkable” career so far, as The New York Times put it, the high-mark of Wilson’s career was a commendation he won in 2013 for stopping a drug transaction.
Like many, I was saddened to hear of the tragedy in Ferguson.
The shooting of an unarmed teenage is no light matter by any means, and it seems that all events surrounding Ferguson are riddled with sadness, outrage and turmoil.
There are many questions to be answered about the shooting.
But in the meantime the situation in Ferguson deteriorated quickly into a crisis – one characterized by violent protests, devolving into riots with extreme police crackdowns involving rubber bullets, tear gas and even the incarceration of journalists.
Overall, the violent protests by frustrated residents and the overly zealous diatribes by certain news pundits, such as Bill O’Reilly who gave a harsh and impassioned speech Aug. 20, have soured the whole affair.
Now, no one wants to voice their opinions on race relations, police brutality or discrimination in America, lest they wish to be hushed in order to appease the status quo.
Even President Barack Obama has gone remarkably silent on the issue, which is especially saddening since he now lacks the resolve and empathy he once had during the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Once boasting, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” President Obama has grown reticent.
Besides releasing several press statements, one after the shooting, and another after the initial protests turned violent, he no longer wants to discuss issues of race.
Sadly, he knows it will fracture and divide Americans, and it will thus foster rancor.
Race is devolving similarly to religion or politics, in that you cannot discuss it without fostering discord.
It is disheartening that we as a nation in 2014 are still unable to freely discuss the many issues of race so that we may solve them.
Yet we must not give up hope, and we must not surrender to the status quo.
If there is anything we can learn from the Ferguson tragedy, it would be of the socioeconomic factors that have befallen an entire generation of young black men.
Today, according to The New York Times, unemployment among African-American youth is 35 percent, and one of every three black men can expect to go prison in his lifetime.
Just as we as a school discussed race during last year’s Summit, so do we need to discuss them on a nation-wide level.
Silence is simply not an option. These problems that bedevil our society will not subside on their own.