“Am I Not A Man & A Brother?”

This article was originally published in OPENWIDE back in 2015, and was written by Ari Bluff

Do not be mistaken, there is a systemic problem plaguing the American judicial system. It is statistical; it stands independent of the crusade to turn Michael Brown into a martyr or the belief that an African-American President or Attorney General is demonstrative of the efficacy of American societal equality. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently conducted an in-depth study of the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) and the results are startling.[1]

Having dedicated over 100 “person-days” onsite, reviewed over 35,000 pages of police records, thousands of emails, and consulted statistical experts, the DOJ concluded that the FDP’s conduct was predominantly shaped by revenue concerns as opposed to public safety needs. These practices were distinctly perpetrated with an underlying reliance on racial stereotyping against Ferguson’s African-American community.[2]

African-Americans compose approximately 67% of Ferguson’s total population, yet the DOJ discovered that they comprised 85% of all traffic stops, 90% of all citations, and 93% of all arrests made between 2012 and 2014.[3] More telling, African-Americans are just over 2 times more likely to have their vehicles searched, account for 88% of total police incidents involving physical force, and were the sole victims amongst the 14 cases involving a canine bite. The list goes on and on.

Legal discrimination is far from the only realm in which the African-American community has historically suffered. Inequality seemingly pervades all aspects of life, including: access to healthcare, levels of academic achievement, widespread poverty, pandemic unemployment, exposure to illegal substances, and incarceration. Any notion that legal discrimination is unrelated to broader and more comprehensive metrics to the standard of living in American society is nonsense.

Evidently, this is not merely a Ferguson issue, but rather, a nationwide problem. Ferguson merely by a stroke of unfortunate luck became the watershed moment and impetus behind a government sponsored investigation into such claims. Perhaps Minneapolis, with recent reports revealing a disproportionate intensification and concentration of African-American poverty, could have been an equally suitable candidate.[4] While it is impossible to label the alienation of the African-American community under a single banner, it is apparent that a host of factors contribute to such circumstances. We must begin to rethink how American society should be structured if it is to truly be the bedrock of the pursuit of happiness.


[1] http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/ferguson_police_department_report.pdf . PAGE1

[2] Ibid. 2.

[3] Ibid. 62.

http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/populations/REMP/black.html#Disparities (healthcare stats)

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/tsr/too-important-to-fail/fact-sheet-outcomes-for-young-black-men/ (education stats)

http://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/factsheet-erm.aspx (stats relating to poverty, unemployment, drugs)

http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet (jail stats)

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/02/17/if-minneapolis-is-so-great-why-is-it-so-bad-for-black-people/


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