Despite the conservative media narrative that racism against minorities is a thing of the past, race, racism, and inherent biases on all sides are a part of what’s happening in Ferguson and communities across America — as are systemic and institutional factors spanning several generations, from the Watts riots in 1965 to the riots in various cities in 1967 and ’68, to Los Angeles in 1992. While an inciting incident — usually involving the police and communities of color — sparked the violence, a tinderbox of underlying frustrations awaited that spark.
After each of these incidents, reports issued by government commissions seeking answers cited hauntingly identical findings. Police brutality, poor relations between the police and the community, a sense of hopelessness fueled by a lack of jobs, economic inequality, inadequate schools, discriminatory housing practices, an unresponsive political system many felt shut out of, along with policies that created segregated neighborhoods which further isolate communities of color were highlighted again and again. Again and again the recommendations included expanding community policing strategies and social programs, making them more consistent with the extent of the problems.