Must accept reality of racism in society to improve race relations in the future

Ian Zulick and Ian Zulick

The fires in Ferguson may be extinguished, but the anger of its denizens yet smolders.

In my heart of hearts, I knew that officer Darren Wilson would most likely not be indicted by the grand jury, but I still hoped that maybe, just maybe our justice system would be able to at least do that much.

Even if it wasn’t going to lead to a conviction, the symbolic act of an indictment would have meant a lot to many, many people.

Nevertheless, in a turn of events that no longer really surprises anyone, Wilson was not even charged; not even brought to trial. Just how commonplace this has become

is shameful.

It marks a true failure of a system when a certain police department refuses to hold one of its own accountable for his actions even as the city they’re supposed to be protecting becomes a violent, fiery ghost of

its former self.

So many of us were so quick to condemn the riots and even more of us were even quicker to deny that race plays a factor in what happened in Michael Brown’s death.

The truth is that white and black people in this country live in two different worlds.

In the world of white America, I do not need to fear systemic discrimination by certain police departments or wanton brutality against me because of the color of my skin.

It is bitter irony of the worst kind to see so many of my white friends quote Martin Luther King Jr. from the comfort of their suburban homes.

He said, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,” which is certainly true, but most of the people quoting this are only doing so to ease their consciences and would have been more than happy to march lockstep alongside J. Edgar Hoover and denounce King as a communist and a dissident if we were back in

the 1960s.

King also said, “Riots are the language of

the unheard.”

He did not approve of or condone riots and neither do I, but to expect anything less in the wake of yet another systemic injustice like this is simply naïve and it shows how out of touch both sides are with one another.

If we want lasting change, we have to be honest about the reality of the situation. Race exists, racism exists and we have been conditioned to believe in it whether we think so or not.

Of course there are other factors like police accountability that need to be addressed, but at the heart of things, the United States has yet to come full circle about its legacy of racism that pervades our culture and our justice system to this day.

Michael Brown’s death is a painful reminder that the post-racial pipe dream fed to us through the media is a lie and that we still have a long way to go as far as race relations are concerned.

We have won and lost many battles, so the

war continues.

To see that it is won, we as a people will have to collectively accept the shame of our past so that we can create a future that future generations won’t feel the need to sweep under the rug.

Respond to Ian at

[email protected]