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Ferguson riots put U.S. racial divide under spotlight

English.news.cn   2014-08-23 15:56:36

by Mu Dong

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- As riots sparked by the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown subside, attention is persistently focused on the chronic problem behind them -- the racial divide in the United States.

The 10-day riots in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb in the state of Missouri, served as a striking reminder of the racial bias towards people of minorities, especially the African-rooted groups in the country.

In the United States, it is not uncommon for conflicts between minorities and police to swell into riots. On the national level, white people make up about three quarters of all local police. In Ferguson, whose population is 67 percent black, the ratio is over 94 percent.

But when dealing with such conflicts, U.S. authorities are more than often reluctant to touch the racial dimension and even try to deny the existence of racial discrimination.

The abuse of power by U.S. police, who use rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons against protestors, has also sparked questioning. Those tools are used under extreme caution in other countries, where police usually use riot shields and batons instead to reduce damage.

Analysts have pointed out that police use of excessive force has a long history and is a national problem. Authorities often use violence against people of minorities during law enforcement.

According to media reports, about 400 people die in conflicts between police and civilians in the United States each year. Among these cases, a quarter involve white cops and African-rooted Americans, and the death toll of African-Americans is more than twice that of white cops.

Besides suffering unfair treatment during police law enforcement, African-rooted minorities have disadvantaged social and economic status, which aggravates the racial divide.

According to census statistics, the annual family income of the white people in the United States reached 62,000 dollars in 2011, while African-American families earned 41,000 dollars on average, or two-thirds of that of an average white family. The ratio stood at 55 percent 50 years ago, but reached 70 percent in the 1980s.

In addition, 75 percent of the white have their own houses, compared to only 45 percent among the African minority families. The poverty rate is 8 percent among the white, but 25 percent among African-Americans. The divide also exists in homelessness, unemployment, education and health care.

In mostly black Ferguson, African-Americans still lag behind their white neighbors in terms of medical care, housing, education and other economic aspects.

Over the history, minority groups in the United States have never stopped their struggle against racial discrimination and fight for equal rights.

Although their political and economic status has been elevated noticeably over recent decades, there is still a long and tortuous way to go before the racial divide is completely eliminated.

Related:

Commentary: Ferguson riot reveals U.S. racial divide, human rights flaw

BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- In his landmark speech, "I have a dream," civil rights leader Martin Luther King voiced his strong aspiration for equal rights of the black people in U.S. society.

Fifty years later, such a dream has been partially realized. The African Americans living in the United States today are enjoying elevated political and social status. Notably, the country is having its first African-American president in history.Full story

Backgrounder: Major racial riots in recent U.S. history

BEIJING, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- More than half a century has passed since Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech, but alarming racial disparity is still plaguing the United States today.

In Ferguson, Missouri, the country is once again torn apart by racial strains.Full story

Editor: xuxin
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