An Unfair Race. Why Ferguson Matters to Islanders

Your T.V.s and newsfeeds must be filled with Ferguson news. You must be thinking all sorts of things or even nothing at all. Some might care a little, some care a lot, and some just scroll down or change the channel right away. I mean what’s it to us right? As people of color, especially those of us living in the U.S., Ferguson should matter to us because it has opened a can of worms that we are very much part of.

Race is such an uncomfortable issue, yet a complicated one that cannot be boiled down to a simple “this or that” answer. It goes deeper into what we call “structural violence.” This simply means black, brown, and other people of color don’t have the same access to opportunities compared to white people because of many years of fighting barriers, often legal, that still exist today. Think of a track race. Now put everyone on the same starting line. Okay now move all the white people several feet forward, some more than others. Put some hurdles in front of the colored people, some with more than others. Now start the race. Is it fair? No. That’s structural violence. It’s the way the system is set up to make it harder for some people to succeed in life, whether by design or by accident. It’s this unjust system that creates both Brown and Wilson. It’s this unjust system that created the A-Bomb, the unfair terms of COFA, and even Climate Change. So what are we to do? We try to understand its complexity while at the same time ask ourselves: Where do I fit in all of this?

Racism may or may not affect you but I guarantee, as a person of color living in the U.S., there will come a time when you will face it; whether brutal or subtle, you’ll know because you will feel it creep down your spine. Some of us already experience this in Hawaii. I even experience it regularly because I look Hispanic or I just don’t look right because of my brown skin. Racism is the ugliness of humanity manifested in individuals and institutions alike. And each time it greets us, it takes away a piece of our dignity. We were all born into this world naked, fragile, and vulnerable. For this, we need each other to survive because relationships and society are the beating heart and backbone of humanity.

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