Until a white person is killed "every 28 hours" by a security officer (as is the case with black Americans), until white people are overwhelmingly and disproportionately represented in the prison population (as is the case with black Americans), until most urban white communities are enclosed in economically deprived and heavily policed areas, until the average white woman in the US shares the same median wealth as the average black woman (according to a 2009 study, the disparity is $30,000 to $5 !!), until white neighbourhoods are gentrified, until white people in NY are subjected to "stop and search" to the same degree that black and hispanic people are, until poverty, social opportunities, incarceration, state violence and extrajudicial murder is as rampant and systemic among the white population as it is among the black population in the United States, YOU are having the wrong conversation.
The notion that anyone - especially middle-or-upper-class whites - could have the audacity to suggest that protesters in Ferguson are ignorant or "incorrect" in their understanding of their own situation is unfathomable. You want them to talk about white youths killed by black cops? Fine. Go to Ferguson and tell them that, and then maybe - just maybe! - you'll have the opportunity to experience first-hand what life is like for the people of Ferguson. And then maybe - just maybe! - you might feel some sense of shame for suggesting that this isn't a race issue.
We are discussing a country which was founded as a SLAVE STATE, built on the backs of black slaves, stolen from Africa and brutally repressed to serve white masters who profited from their dehumanization and degradation and domination. This is not some sort of historical anomaly which vanished at the end of the Civil War: slavery has had an evolving history, black communities and populations in the US remain a largely "internally colonized" people, as Stokely Carmichael explained.
Perhaps before making such an ignorant and frankly, stupid, statement as suggesting that Ferguson has nothing to do with race, you should learn a little bit about the evolution of the racist history of the US, from pre-state, to slave state, to prison-state. Read Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow," among a plethora of other excellent literature on the realities of race and racism in America today. Sure, you have a black president: a symbolic victory, no doubt, but one lacking in substance when he remains president over a deeply racist and repressive society.
Police repression, violence and murder is horrific no matter the race of the victim or the perpetrator; indeed, social, economic and political considerations are not to be ignored, and have major implications... but to suggest that RACE and racism are not among them is to ignore the entire history of the United States up until present day.
Ferguson should be a wake-up call to whites and all Americans (and indeed, others around the world who look on - much like during the 1960s - viewing the situation as an internal racist war against a repressed population). You're going in the wrong direction, you are having the wrong conversation. Open your eyes, use your brain, follow your conscience.
It never fails to amaze me, the moment that race issues are brought to the forefront and in such an obvious - and unabashedly racist - manner, whites are so eager to immediately decry the notion that racism is relevant, pointing to the struggles of whites as evidence for the "irrelevance of race", which is, in fact, racist, on top of being ignorant.
Indeed, circumstances for all Americans are worsening, regardless of race, and this should act as a unifying force - drawing on a concept of solidarity - whereby as the long-privileged white population becomes increasingly economically exploited and deprived, increasingly politically repressed, increasingly met with state violence, they should come to realize that they are being pushed down into the circumstances in which the majority of the black population has been kept for CENTURIES. That means it's time to stop telling black people where they've "got it wrong," and to start listening and learning to populations and communities that your society has historically and presently repressed.
That's the fuckin' conversation to have.