On Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown, an 18- year-old African American man was shot by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old police officer. Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were walking in the middle of the street when Wilson drove up and told them to move to the sidewalk. During the interaction, Brown was shot six times and was fatally wounded.
After the Ferguson shooting, riots and protesting broke out, leading to vandalism and looting. Michael Brown’s father Michael Brown Sr. spoke to CNN with a message for the protesters saying, “I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimation, but hurting others and destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.”
Brown’s father is not the only person who has spoken to the media asking for peace. President Obama addressed the public on Nov. 24, saying, “I join Michael’s parents to ask those who protest to do it peacefully. There is a deep distrust among the law enforcement and colored communities across the country, some of which is a result of racial discrimination.”
During Nov. 25 and 26, the Black Student Union and Student Programs hosted an open mic event regarding the recent Ferguson decision in the cafeteria from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students were welcome to get up and voice their opinions about the recent decision.
ASG President Melantha Jenkins said that the reason for having the open mic was “We want to give you something to think about. It is important to know what is going on outside of this school.” Throughout the event she and members from the Black Student Union encouraged people to stand up and speak their opinions.
Olivia Stratton, a student at Bellevue College spoke about racism, and said, “If we do not do something, we are only adding to the problem. Our children will look back and say, ‘My parent was so ignorant’ and I would know from personal experience.”
Stratton was not the only student to stand up and speak against racism, Nikolaus Baitista spoke, and said, “Any one of you could be a victim of stereotypes and profiling, if you want to see social justice, social change, stop seeing the color lines. Stop seeing race.”
Some students like Alex Yu-Ming disagreed with the some of the speakers, and said, “So many of the people who take the stage are filled with hypocrisy. We see race, but what we fail to address is we should not judge the content of one’s character. When we see someone who is of a different religion or anyone that looks different outwardly because they express themselves and their religious belief outwardly by the clothes they wear. It is part of the human nature when we pre-judge an individual based on our first encounter. Color is not something that will disappear.”
Bellevue College is not the only school in the area holding events. Recently, the University of Washington hosted a protest against racial profiling and discrimination.