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What is happening in Ferguson, Missouri is not just a “black” thing or “black” problem as some may think. It is an American problem. Ferguson is on the American stage playing a role in fighting oppression that is impacting the quality of life and overall health of whites and non-whites affected by economic structures.

While it is true that power-based racism in the African American community is reflected through Ferguson’s and the national unemployment rates, annual family incomes, poverty levels, poor education systems, and the disproportionate number of young black males being imprisoned in this country – other groups, both whites and non-whites are experiencing various types of oppression as well.

Being able to expand one’s thinking about power-based racism by understanding that many whites and non-whites are on the same side, will allow people to be unified and conquer the oppression they are all experiencing from those in power.

Structural racism no longer impacts just non-whites, but whites as well and fighting oppression must become a united effort for all Americans, especially in the ways this ideology continues to allow inequitable treatment to persist in this nation for the less fortunate.

In order to unite and fight oppression, whites and non-whites must pay close attention to how they are contributing and maintaining their own personal issues with prejudices and discriminating thoughts or behaviors. Whites and non-whites are not always aware of how they unintentionally or covertly express or manifest prejudices around people from diverse population. It's time to change the conversations.

America is multicultural, which means we will all hold different beliefs and interpretations of our experiences or needs for personal well-being and overall health. Instead of imposing our beliefs and assumptions onto others, whites and non-whites can learn to respect their differences and bond through their common humanity.

Whether what is happening in Ferguson and to other disenfranchised people matters to you or not, power-based racism is impacting the lives, health, and overall well-being of millions of people, whites and non-whites, all across the United States.

Some people are responding to the incident in Ferguson with anger and others with compassion. Those who are angry, are not angry about the numerous ways in which power-based racism continues to be perpetuated in America or the human suffering, but they are tired of being blamed, or being prejudged, or worrying about being politically correct.

However, no matter what the defense reactions or lack of interest, “some” Americans benefit from the various types of privileges and power that are - like it or not - favorably bestowed on them as a result of their racial or economic position. They don’t have to and have no clue what it is like to fight oppression in America. Many multicultural Americans, whites and non-whites, are fighting right now and we are witnessing one group in Ferguson.

In the Christian culture we learn to do unto others, what we would have them to do unto us. Multicultural America is here to stay and we see that in the way the demographics have changed in the United States. If the shoe was on the other foot – and it could change at any time – would you want other Americans to pay attention and provide the resources needed to address the problem that power-based racism has created for your group in this country?

We can end racism by asking God to create in each follower of Christ a clean heart and to help them love others in the same way that Jesus Christ has loved each one of them. Ferguson is a town that is fighting oppression based on a negative historical past and many people are trying to confront the impact that power-based racism continues to have in many structures of this nation.

It takes courage to fight oppression and to advocate for equal treatment as a human being in America, the land of the free and home of the brave. Whites and non-whites in this country, who have been oppressed through power-based racism, want to be treated with dignity, respect, and desire to experience equality, health, well-being, a good living, decent education for their children, to find gainful employment, and enjoy the same American citizenship as everyone else.

In order for every American to live in peace, power-based racism and oppression needs to become a thing of the past, power hungry leaders and those without a multicultural vision need to be a thing of the past.

Multicultural America needs to VOTE in people who are interested in building a greater America for the 21st century that positively impacts the health and well-being of ALL Americans.


Dr. Pensacola H. Jefferson

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