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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Ferguson: America is still racist

    Growing up in St. Louis, I was taught a lot about geography. On one side of the road was the “ghetto” grocery store, while on the opposite side was the “Gucci” version. The “white trash” crawl out of their meth labs in South County, and North County is where African-Americans are shot without it even making the evening news.

    I was in Tucson, Ariz., when I learned about the shooting of Michael Brown — an unarmed, black, 18-year-old boy from North County. Honestly, I was surprised when the story began to pick up momentum considering that this situation is almost a daily occurrence in that area of town. But I still hoped that the death of Michael Brown could act as a wake up call for America. Because yes, it is true: America is still racist.

    When I moved away for college, a lot of people assumed I lived on a farm or didn’t have plumbing because Missouri is a “fly-over state.” What those people didn’t understand is that St. Louis is one of the most segregated cities in America by not only race, but also socio-economic status. Many of today’s poverty-stricken African-American areas used to be populated by predominately white, working-class families after World War II, until those whiter, wealthier residents began to flee and left the city to crumble behind them. My aunt stayed behind. I remember going to visit her when I was younger and thinking about how it didn’t look anything like the part of town my house was in. There were fears of gangs and stray bullets. She lived in Ferguson, Mo.

    Ferguson is home to a failing school district, high rates of illiteracy and teen pregnancy and police brutality. But, being from the other side of town, I grew up thinking this was the natural order of things. Of course there was a rich side and a poor side, a black side and a white side. I did not understand because I was young. Other people do not understand because they are willfully ignorant.

    Tucson is home to its own share of oppression and cultural divisions. Last year in the Amphitheater School District, there were reported instances of racial slurs being used to torment African-American students. Tucson Unified School District had in place a ban on Mexican-American studies in public schools. When it is our schools that are perpetuating this problem, the situation begins to feel even more hopeless.

    I worry that America will never change. We don’t educate ourselves enough on ethnicities or religions outside of our own experiences. Therefore, we can’t feel empathy or begin to understand the difficulties of being a minority in America. And even though Michael Brown and my hometown have been the front-page news story for a few weeks, I worry that a new tragedy will take over the news, and people will forget about Ferguson. Mostly, I worry that rights will never be fully enjoyed by many of our people because of the color of their skin or the balance in their checking accounts.
    We need to have this discussion. And it shouldn’t take another dead black man to spark it.

    Follow Trey Ross @_patriciaross

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