Exceptionalism

An unarmed young man, Jonathan Ferrell, crashes his car and manages to drag his disoriented injured self to a neighboring rural home front door to try and get help, and he ends up dead in a sea of gunfire by the hands of none other than Police in North Carolina. Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, fired 12 shots at Ferrell, 10 of which hit him and the shooter is now being prosecuted for manslaughter.

Until we decide as a society that the color of a person’s skin should not be an automatic risk factor for them growing to old age, I am not sure how we as Americans can consider ourselves so exceptional. We’ve gotten into a vicious cycle of racism leading to profiling, incarceration and criminalization; incarceration leading to poverty, disenfranchisement, breakdown of families and lack of opportunity; family breakdown, poverty and lack of opportunity leading to gangs and greater chance of criminalization, etc. etc. Letting go of the racism is going to be a key component of breaking the cycle. Changing our knee jerk practice of incarcerating people of color for minor offenses, like marijuana possession (which whites do in equal numbers) will be a key component to breaking the cycle.

Ferrell, 24, was a college football player at Florida A&M University. He was someone’s son, friend, cousin – very much someone’s loved one.

From Slate:

“He’s engaged to be married, he has a dog and a cat, he was driving a Toyota Camry, he survived an accident, had 3.7 GPA, a chemistry major. This is not someone who posed a threat to the officers or anyone else, this is an everyday American.”

This loss of human potential is shameful and is representative of what is holding our country back from reaching its true potential. May Jonathan rest in peace in a better place.

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