It hurts. It hurts watching the city I grew up in and love, separate over these recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. St. Louis is a great town, and as hard as that may be to believe given all that has gone on recently, I’m sure many of my fellow St. Louisans would agree with me. So, it hurts me to turn on the news and see so much negativity circulating the city and its people. But this isn’t just about the separation of a city and country; it’s about the life and decisions a young man, Michael Brown, and a police officer, Darren Wilson, made on August 9, 2014.
It’s a tragedy what happened. An 18-year-old boy was shot dead in the street by a police officer. I cannot even begin to fathom what kind of pain and sadness Brown’s family and friends are feeling. I grieve for them. It’s also a tragedy, however, that Michael Brown put himself in the situation that ultimately led to his death. Had Brown not robbed a convenience store and assaulted the clerk, then Wilson would have never been dispatched to the area for the robbery. Unfortunately that is the case.
Although I agree with the court’s decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson, I am not up in arms with the people that disagree with the decision or my opinion. I fully respect the opinions that oppose mine. This is the United States of America and everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. So do I think the protests are wrong? No. However, the violent protests that damaged businesses and put law enforcement in danger are wrong. Putting lives in danger and ruining businesses is not the solution to this situation no matter how much one may disagree with the situation.
What has upset me most, besides the fact that a boy lost his life, is the fact that this story and case have become so much about race. As I see it, what happened was that an unarmed 18-year-old boy was shot dead by a police officer in the middle of the street.
A BOY and a POLICE OFFICER. Not a black kid shot by a white cop, but simply a boy shot by a cop. Racism is present in our society, and it always will be. Just like corrupt cops are present and always will be. But until we stop identifying race when something wrong happens between two or more people of different color, we aren’t ever going to minimize race issues.
Do not be mistaken, though, I’m not suggesting we dismiss race altogether. I know by not talking about race, racist behaviors and attitudes won’t disappear. So, while I think it is outright ignorant to fail to acknowledge that racism is still prevalent in our society, I do feel that what happened to Michael Brown was not about race. Until proven otherwise, I do not believe that Wilson shot Brown merely because of his skin color.
Therefore, it infuriates me that the media places so much emphasis on color and race in the story. Why can’t Michael Brown just be a boy? Why do we have to mention that he is black? What if he were white? Would the media have mentioned his race then? The media continues to jab at this topic to rile up the crowd and get this conversation brewing, boosting their numbers. It’s sad, but try to look at it from afar and assess what happened and tell me the media hasn’t been a big reason in why this debate is going on.
I am deeply saddened at what has transpired. I hope and pray that this controversy and debate will lead to better race relations in the future. We cannot afford as a country and a group of people to become separated over color. We need not judge, but if you do choose to judge then judge on someone’s personality, attitude, soul and heart. Those are the things that matter. Not race.
Connor Larson is a St. Louis native, baseball player and musician. Catch him trying to make you laugh by being an absolute goon. Like writing his own bio in the third person.