Unarmed teen’s shooting in Missouri sparks debate at DVC

Amrita Kaur, Editor-in-Chief

With the beginning of the fall semester at Diablo Valley College, classes started touching on the topic of Ferguson and race.

The Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, 18, by a white police officer in Missouri re-ignited a national debate about race, color and excessive force used by law enforcement.

Khari Mathews, 19, a biology major, recalls the discussion in his sociology class, where the general consensus has been that Brown should not have been killed. Mainly, the conversation has focused on understanding the underlying ideas behind the issue, the implications that come with being of a specific skin color and the physical features of that race.

“This is just another shooting, there are so many of them, all the time,” Mathews said. “Why should this be treated any different? Elevating this shooting diminishes all the others.”

Fernando Reyes, 23, a business administration major, said, “It’s sad that I am so desensitized that things like that happen to people of color that I am not surprised anymore. There should be a whole bunch more systems in place that things like that aren’t happening. I am not surprised, but I am still depressed by it. It ruins your sense of humanity.”

Devin Hope, 19, a criminal justice major wants answers to better understand the motivation behind shootings like Ferguson.

“I want to know where these police officers mindsets were, how do they think when they see people like us? What makes them handle the way they do seeing an unarmed man and shoot? It’s not the way they should have handled  it, by racial standards.”

About his own experience, Hope is more nonchalant.

“I have experienced some of the stuff in Oakland, how I’m looked at. Not much really, though, here at DVC or Bay Area, though I know it does happen,” he said.

Nursing student Mikayla Williams, 20, said she thinks things are getting worse.

“I can walk into a store and I get followed because I’m a black person. There’ll be other races looking at me, making sure I am not doing anything. I am looking to be a nurse, to be an EMT and it’s not that easy, I notice I have to work harder.”

The issue faced by young people like Williams is not a unique experience.

Lee Jones, 24, a communications major is frustrated at the lack of change in society and its view of different races, especially black people. He said that as an African-American male, he feels people expect him to mess up and he has to work harder to prove himself.

“It’s not going to change; the world is becoming more corrupt,” Jones said. “I know for sure that love conquers power, when everyone can come together as one and love one another, but till then it’s going to continue. Things are not going to change.”