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A Divided America

Capitol Report

By State Representative, Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

The police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9 has turned the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, into a domestic battleground; pushing the hot-button issue of race in America to the national forefront – once again.

I would be the first to admit that there are (at least) two sides to every story or incident.

However, the cavernous divide that separates Black and white Americans on the thorny issue of race continues to reveal itself, and cannot be ignored.

The Pew Research Center poll conducted on August 14-17 among 1,000 adults found that while 80 percent of Black Americans say the incident raises important issues about race, only 37 percent of whites agreed.

The majority of whites (47 percent) held the view that race is getting more attention than it deserves.

Sharp racial differences between Blacks and whites were also apparent in opinions about whether local police went too far in their response to the Ferguson shooting with 65 percent of blacks saying that police had “gone too far” compared with only 33 percent of white adults.

On the contrary, 32 percent of whites said the police response “had been about right” whereas only 20 percent of African Americans agreed.

The findings also extended to politics, revealing an expected divide between Republicans and Democrats.

Not surprisingly, 61 percent of those who identified as GOP said race is getting too much attention while 68 percent of Democrats held the view that the case highlights important issues surrounding race.

As for upcoming investigations, 52 percent of whites said they had a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of confidence in investigations into the shooting, while only 18 percent of Black people were confident in a fair inquiry.

Three-quarters of Blacks have little or no confidence in the investigations and 45 percent have no confidence at all.

There is little doubt that the race question in America remains the proverbial 500-pound gorilla in the room.

The tragic and unnecessary killings of un-armed Black youth (Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and now Michael Brown) are vivid reminders of the racial discord that haunts this nation.