Racism, riots and injustice has been a part of the American landscape since the country was born in 1776. One of the worst and best times for civil rights began in the 1960s through the 1970s. Martin Luther King, Medger Evers and Rosa Parks are great examples of those who fought for equal rights for “people of color”. They gained a lot of ground in the time they were given and two of those people were mercilessly assassinated. Many things are different in this day and age as race wars occur all over the United States.
Two such examples are the recent deaths of two African-American men by police officers. Both cases sparked protests and one resulted in a riot. The first shooting occurred in Staten Island when a police officer attempted to arrest Eric Garner. Police say that Garner was selling loose cigarettes and cite that as the reason the officer tried to arrest him. Shortly after the man was detained, he died of asphyxiation because the officer strangled him. The second man was detained and some witnesses say that he grabbed hold of the police officer’s gun and there was a struggle. The officer later shot the man while they were scuffling for the gun. His name was Michael Brown and people were livid when the police officer was not indicted for murder.
The debates began to take hold almost immediately after the decisions not to indict these officers was handed down by the grand jury. Among those who had, something to say about the situation stood a long line of celebrities and athletes. Some were infuriated, others seemed disconnected from it and yet others agreed with the decision. Whatever it was, people are passionate about the case.
After the decision was handed down in Ferguson, Lebron James, a professional basketball player, stated on Twitter, “As a society how do we do better and stop things happening like this.” He had more to say on the matter by posting a link to a lengthier comment. Vanessa Williams chimed in when she said” Heart so heavy w/the Grand Jury #FergusonDecision. Officer Wilson got married while we grieve! Our sons lives MATTER! SMH!” Ted Nugent even chimed in, blaming President Obama for the worst race relations in 50 years. There was nary a celebrity that did not have to say something on the subject except Andy Mineo who felt pressure to say something but was afraid that he might not say something profound enough.
After the Eric Garner decision was handed down, Lebron James wore an “I can’t breathe” t-shirt. That is what Garner’s last words were before he died. Derrick Rose, Reggie Bush and Davin Joseph wore the same shirt in protest of the decision. Samuel L. Jackson challenged all celebrities to sing the song “We Ain’t Gonna Stop Until People Are Free” in hopes of a change for the better in race relations.
There seem to be a never-ending war between black people and white people. Relations appear much worse in the past decade, or maybe it is simply because there is social media to bring it into the spotlight. The words, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” might be more telling than anyone knows. If Americans do not find a way to come together instead of fighting each other every step of the way, it could lead to a division that forces the nation to fall.