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Ferguson riots: Obama fails Black Americans

Ikebesi Omoding

Ferguson riots: Obama fails Black Americans

At the requiem mass for Michael Brown

At the requiem mass for Michael Brown, video images showed his father constantly shifting his feet left and right in a slightly rolling motion of his head and upper body while chewing gum. The gesture was unnerving in a peculiarly calm manner given the imploding circumstances.

Brown Senior was standing behind his wife who was giving an eulogy on the Family Liberty Church podium. She was narrating how just recently she and her step-son, Michael, had finished studying the Bible books of Genesis and Exodus. She said that Michael Brown repeatedly told her of his premonition of death after the spiritual exercise.

Then two weeks ago, Policeman Darren Wilson shot Brown six times, two times, bullets in the head. Brown died instantly. Wilson claimed that Brown was robbing a department store; and that when he confronted the teenager, Brown challenged him intending to grab Wilson’s gun. A teenage, who was actively studying the Bible, could not surely have been a robber!

Subsequent inquiries by the lawyer, hired by the Brown family, indicates that Brown had been in a posture of lifting his hands up in surrender when he was shot, and could not have been spoiling for a fight with Wilson.

White American policemen have been using the loophole in the law that paints Black Americans as challenging authority when confronted; and therefore the aggressors, mandating and justifying the use of lethal force.

Two years ago, it was Trayvon Martin, another Black teenager shot and killed by a White Latino policeman, George Zimmerman. In this instance there was a scuffle and struggle while rolling on the ground for the possession of the gun handled by Zimmerman. Martin had been strolling back home in the evening hours when Zimmerman confronted him for being “idle and disorderly”. A subsequent concerted court hearing found Zimmerman not culpable of the Martin’s murder.

White policemen targeting, especially Black youth, has been an on-going case of racial profiling in the US for a long time. The issue gained prominence in the case of Rodney King, a Black, ruthlessly bludgeoned by White policemen in Los Angeles in 1992 and filmed by an amateur video passer-by. It caught world attention and shoved the issue of US race relations to the fore, once again.

Curiously enough, the killing of another teenager, Errol Ford, in Los Angeles a week after the Brown’s murder, did not cause much media ripple, because the case of Brown had galvanized the nation as Blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, rioted.

Of the Trayvon Martin’s killing, two years ago, President Barack Obama, merely commented that it could have been him 35 years previously. Of  the Brown murder, Obama sent his Attorney General, Eric Holder, and the National Guard, to quell the subsequent riots in Ferguson. But this was and is not enough in what Holder terms that US society is “afraid” to confront the issue of racial profiling, especially by the White policemen on the unarmed Black teenagers.

Holder should have pointedly told his boss that, as the fist US Black president, he Obama, was afraid to confront the American White power structure, using his Executive Order. Thirty-five years ago, when he went into community service in Chicago, Illinois, Obama was able to notice the inequality that was heaped upon the Blacks. That led to his activism which eventually paved the way for his involvement in the wider political spectrum that has led to his White House stint.

And for this in certain areas, Obama has tried to redress the inequalities which he sees in the health insurance sector. As a result, Obama has gone to considerable lengths to address this issue which has legally been incorporated into his Obamacare Act. It has been termed as the signature of the legacy of his presidency.

Obama staked his re-election on this health care issue, and won. Now that his presidency is in its second and last term, what better way would Obama have used except to iron out the race relations before he shuffles off the scene? Surely this would be the best legacy of a Black president!

He has the power for this; he can muster the numbers in both houses of Congress if the matter comes to a vote. Obama is not alone in this. A recent Pew Poll research, following the Brown murder, shows that 33% of White America views the White Police racial profiling against Black Americans as unjustified. This is a good cue for Obama to work on.

For the Brown funeral, Obama sent a White House representative to stand in for him, when other strong Black luminaries, such as Civil Rights activists; Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, took center stage. Clearly, his representation was not enough. Obama needs to actively identify himself with the 15% Black minority, whose rights are being severely tampered with by the White Police racial profiling. Now, he has the power to do that.                                              



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Ikebesi Omoding is the acclaimed author of a weekly column titled: From the Outside Looking In

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