The first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is one. Ignoring a problem or pretending it does not exist does not make it go away; as a matter of fact, it only makes it worse. This is true in both everyday matters and in matters of racism. Color-blindness is the enemy of defeating racism. Color-blindness is the belief that, if one single group is not favored over another, that things will eventually work themselves out. The problem with this stance is that it ignores the existing problems.
Problems are solved by taking action, not by hoping things will work themselves out. Color-blindness was an enemy to defeating racism in the past, and it continues to be an enemy to that same cause today. The change brought about by Martin Luther King, Jr.
shows that racism has been combated in the past not by “color-blindness”, but by identifying problems and acting on them, and the Michael Brown case shows that neutrality is just as counterproductive in combating racism today as it was in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s time.
The most successful battles against racism in the past were won not through neutrality, but through taking action. A well known civil rights activist to whom this applies is Martin Luther King, Jr. An active leader in the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. is possibly the most widely known civil rights activist from this time period. His actions brought about equality for African-Americans. He was exposed to the drastic differences between blacks and whites from a very young age, observing the discrimination against his family and himself.
This racism affected his adult life as well. He could have chosen to ignore the problem, and attempt to live a normal life with his family. He probably would have lived longer as well; after all, if he hadn’t been a leader of the civil rights movement, he would not have been assassinated. Instead, he chose to realize the problem and make the world aware of it. This decision made him into one of the most influential men in shaping American society and combating racism. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a clear example of how it is action, not neutrality, that will defeat racism.
The battle against racism still rages on in today’s society, as shown in the case of Michael Brown. Brown was an 18 year old black man who was shot by a white officer after robbing a convenience store. He was unarmed at the time of the shooting. The majority of eyewitnesses say that he was surrendering to the officer when he was shot six times. This shooting has caused a lot of controversy since it occurred and was taken to court. Race was clearly an element in this case. Some argue that even if Brown had been white, the outcome would have been the same. They could be right; maybe if Brown had been white he still would have been shot. However, the scenario would have played out much differently. Certainly if he had been white he wouldn’t have been shot while surrendering, and certainly not six times. However, since Brown was black, the officer saw him as more of a threat. Those who argue that the outcome would have been the same are trying to dismiss the fact that race did play a prominent role in this case. They are trying to take a neutral stance, and it is only escalating the problem.
It is a proven African-American men have a harder time of it in the judicial system than white men do. Black men are incarcerated six times as quickly as white men, and African- Americans make up over half of all prisoners in the American prison systems. These are clear cases of racism and bias. The problem exists, and it needs to be dealt with. Ignoring it will not make it go away. If the people pretend that it doesn’t exist, or try to smooth it all over, it is only going to get worse. The Michael Brown case is already having enormous impact in society, as evidenced by the riots in Ferguson and across the country. Neutrality, or color blindness, will not help us solve the problem of racism. Following the examples of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others like him who took action against the problem, will help us solve it.