Have you been to Ferguson, Mo.? Have you seen someone lying in a street surrounded by a pool of blood for hours while bystanders took photos? Have you seen anyone killed?
Have you rioted, broken car windows, destroyed property, looted or pillaged stores owned and operated by your neighbors because a tragedy took place in your neighborhood? Have you sat with white knuckles and tears streaming down your cheeks praying for your husband to come home safely knowing that his job is to protect and serve others in the community, and that's why he has to wear a gun to work?
How many of these questions did you answer yes to?
The recent shooting in Ferguson has become another wake-up call that there are indeed racial tensions in our towns, cities, and even neighborhoods. And while you may never have visited Ferguson or seen any or done any of the above personally, if you have read the newspapers or watched any or the network news shows, you have seen this horrible situation play out over and over again. But should you have?
Too often the media gets on a story they just can't let go of, kind of like a pit bulldog with a bone. And in too many cases they romanticize or dramatize the facts in order to keep the viewer interested, and they don't always tell the truth.
Are there good police officers as well as not so good? Yes. But we don't know what really happened in Ferguson. We weren't in that officer's shoes. We don't know if he felt threatened and believed he was fighting for his own life. We don't know if Michael Brown was fleeing, standing still or challenging the police officer. But the media would have us believe that this was a classic case of racial profiling and a young innocent black man was shot by a young white gun happy cop, it keeps the story alive, and it adds to the racial tensions that already exist.
Bill Cosby has gone on record of saying some pretty startling things in an essay he wrote about racial tensions and race relations. In his essay, "We can't blame white people," Cosby wrote:
"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: Why you ain't, Where you is, What he drive, Where he stay, Where he work, Who you be. ... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk.
"Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living.
"People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around. The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids. Five hundred dollar sneakers for what? And they won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.'
"I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And where is the father? Or who is his father?
"People putting their clothes on backward: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something? Or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles (piercing) going through her body?
"What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail." (So says Bill Cosby.)
I am not suggesting that racial profiling doesn't exist, nor that it didn't exist in Ferguson. I am, however, suggesting that the current culture of Americans, whether black, white, red, yellow or brown, has deteriorated to the point that our moral values and the way we live our lives has become anything goes, and whatever I want I deserve whether I can afford it or not because I am an American and the government owes it to me.
We have become a nation of government handouts and the welfare mentality has held too many of our people back from being positive contributors to society. That should not mean getting a gun and shooting someone.
The Atlanta Black Star newspaper reported earlier this year that in the same time period that 2,000 American service men and women died in Afghanistan, some 5,000 people died in Chicago, and most of those killings were young African-American males being killed by other young African-American males. Ironically, most of us living outside of Chicago continue to go through our lives unfazed by these seemingly commonplace happenings.
But let a young white cop kill a young black man and the entire world practically goes up in smoke. Isn't it time we get back to the basics of teaching our children to respect themselves and others?
Isn't it time we stop playing the race card everytime it is white on black, and start looking at the way we treat one another in general? Isn't it time we take a look around us and start giving a hand up to those who are living below the poverty level rather than continuing to give them a hand-out and thereby taking away their pride and discouraging them from helping themselves?
Let's not relive the horrors of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin. Let's help them find a better way.
Let's look inward as well as outward. Maybe we should re-read a little Bill Cosby.
Have a great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org