Gabrielle Walker, 5, protests the killing of teenager Michael Brown on Sunday in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family’s continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. Photo: AFP
After Michael Brown, a young black man in the Missouri town of Ferguson, St Louis, was shot dead by a police officer on August 9, the town has been swamped with anti-racism protests and a curfew imposed by the local authority. After police released a videotape allegedly of Brown attempting to steal cigars from a convenience store, tensions were increased dramatically. The footage neither offered a convincing reason for the officer to pull his trigger, nor less why the latest autopsy reveals that the unarmed Brown was shot six times.
This is probably the largest protest launched by African Americans in recent years. It tells us that racism still overshadows minorities in the US even while they have got a black president.
There is no doubt that the US has made great progress in race relations over half a century. Barack Obama being elected as the president has reflected that there are now no public areas still labeled "whites only" in the US.
Racial discrimination at large has not been wiped out. An invisible gap between minorities and the white majority is still one of the biggest facts facing US society.
The US owes African Americans historical debts, which has resulted in many racial problems. In order to address these, it employs a fairly tough approach by pushing African Americans to integrate into mainstream society at the cost of destroying their original cultures. But we have to admit that this one-size-fits-all strategy benefits national governance.
The former Soviet Union and its socialist camp members used a different way to address its racial issues. By relying on a policy of regional ethnic autonomy, it tried to strike a balance between national unity and ethnic diversity. However, it finally resulted in many negative consequences.
Be it the US way or Soviet Union way, there is no panacea to resolve ethnic and racial issues once and for all.
Recent years have witnessed the US being relatively untroubled by racial problems, because after gaining the upper hand in the competition with the Soviet Union, it has had a bigger say in ethnic and racial issues.
By depending on powerful media, the West keeps infiltrating their thoughts into socialist countries. But the latter are impotent to influence the former in the same way, by telling the US minorities how many legitimate rights they were deprived of by the one-size-fits-all strategy.
Someone propose that China should learn from the US at the cost of depriving ethnic minorities of privileges. But this is unfeasible. And more ironically, the US, which keeps trying to assimilate minorities in a barbaric way, never ceases to point fingers at China, spouting how the government has "violated" the rights of ethnic minorities.
The Ferguson protests reopen one of the scars of US society. Ethnic and racial problems are everywhere, and it takes time to address them. We have to acquire enough tenacity and capability to control their intensity, so that we can keep the initiative.