Ferguson, MO City motto since 1894: PROUD PAST, PROMISING FUTURE:
On August 9th of this year unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer and the shooting sparked the longest period of rioting since the Rodney King rioting of 1992. The Michael Brown family called for peace and cessation to the violence. The National Guard would be brought in on August 18th.
The riots left over a dozen businesses looted and smoldering (many Black owned businesses) and 100’s of arrest. And less than sixty days after the rioting the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton have returned to their mansion miles away from Ferguson. This town is once again in the news because a Ferguson police officer was shot in the arm last Saturday. As of the writing of this article the Ferguson Police have so far arrested eight suspects.
But why is our attention span so short with this horrible tragedy? Let us attempt to not have our knowledge on this subject a mile wide but only an inch deep.
Ferguson, Missouri is a town of only 6.20 miles and per the 2010 US Census the population of Ferguson, Missouri is 21,203. As of the 2010 census the racial makeup of the city was 29.3 percent white, 67.4 percent African American, 0.4 percent Native American, 0.5 percent Asian and 0.4 percent from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were1.2 percent.
A recent Brookings Institute report stated, “The city’s unemployment rate rose from roughly 7 percent in 2000 to over 13 percent in 2010-12. For those residents who were employed, inflation-adjusted average earnings fell by one-third. The number of households using federal Housing Choice Vouchers climbed from roughly 300 in 2000 to more than 800 by the end of the decade. Amid these changes, poverty skyrocketed.
Between 2000 and 2010-2012, Ferguson’s poor population doubled. By the end of that period, roughly one in four residents lived below the federal poverty line ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012), and 44 percent fell below twice that level.” Within our country’s largest 100 metro areas the number of suburban areas where more than 20 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line more than doubled between the years, 2000 – 2012.
Are there 100’s of Ferguson’s in waiting? Not if we begin to pay serious attention now. Rioting has always been a poor choice for the serious response needed from the real hurts of the Black community. Many communities are still struggling to recover from the rioting decades ago.
The loss of life for Michael Brown and so many other young Black men in our nation is disturbing. We also must begin to go deeper into the issue and see if there is more than just Black and White to this issue but is there also something Green about this as well?
If we choose to delve deeper and go beyond the sound bites, it is possible that Ferguson, Missouri could be the last race riot in America. If we look away and refuse to deal with the underpinnings it is possible that Ferguson will just be the beginning of what is to come.