December 11, 2014

Ferguson: sparking a conversation

The Louisville Cardinal News

By Kylie Noltemeyer:

If you have watched the news, seen the papers or even browsed the Internet over the past couple weeks, you have probably heard the name Ferguson. This is referring to Ferguson, Missouri where on Aug. 9 a black teenager named Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer, Darren Wilson.

On December 2, University of Louisville’s sociology department offered an open discussion for students and faculty regarding Ferguson and the Nov. 24 grand jury decision in which Wilson was not indicted, and event which sparked a flame all over the country with people protesting for racial equality and an end to police brutality.

Derrick Brooms, assistant professor of sociology, led the nearly two-hour discussion. Present at the event were several faculty members and PhD students as well as graduate and undergraduate students. Participants of all ages were eager to vocalize their personal views on this controversial matter.

“This incident in Ferguson is not about Michael Brown,” said Brooms early in the discussion, “We cannot leave it at this one incident. If do that, we miss the macro picture of what’s going on.”

The entire group was unanimous in thinking that this episode in Ferguson was a long time coming. They discussed how police brutality and racial inequality has been building for years and is now beginning to boil over into anger among the people.

The group also discussed how Ferguson was successful in putting these issues of race and equality on the national scale again.

However, after the nearly 2 hour discussion of what Ferguson means to stopping racial inequality, the discussion turned to the future.

Because the future of race relations is so uncertain, freshman Kirsti Harrison was met with laughter after asking a simple question, “How do we change it?”

Brooms took the question in stride saying, “How does change start? Change starts with ourselves.” He then continued, “We have to be willing to have a conversation about social problems like race in the United States that might make us a little uncomfortable, but that then creates an opportunity to engage in some critical dialogue.”



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