“Ferguson”. The one word everyone else is talking about here in the US, yet I've found that few whites and blacks are discussing the issue together.
Personally, as I see others outside of my race talking about the incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, none of them, not even those I know, seek to bring me into their conversations on the subject. I hear words like "Ferguson," "shoot," "thug," "Wilson" and "Brown," so I know what's being discussed. I draw near and...
Then come the nervous glances, a couple of coughs, a few stammered words about the Thanksgiving holiday quickly blurted out, and that's it. And it remains pretty much the same thing every time I encounter these people.
Did I wear a "Kill White People" cap? Maybe I blasted out some “Fight the Power” and “9-1-1 is a Joke” by Public Enemy, or “Slavery is Back in Effect” by Sistah Souljah without realizing it? Did I slap Angela Davis and Mumia Abu Jamal posters all over their homes?
Of course not.
My god. Things will only get better if there is communication. If it’s going to be discussed, then don’t do so in audible whispers amongst one’s own. ENGAGE! Talk. Gain perspective while not passing judgment. Offer a different view and why that view is held. Silence on one part breeds supposition within the mind of the other, and right now we are clusters of black and clusters of white speaking quietly -- even sheepishly -- within our own circles instead of being open and honest with all.
And then, there's the nation's most famous representative of both races: President Barack Obama. He of half-white, half-black origins, is uniquely positioned to offer America a view from both white and black perspectives (if not of his own, then of his extended family) from the great "bully pulpit" that is the American Presidency. Did we get a "fireside chat" about the race issue from him? Did he stand as an example of what can be achieved when people of all races work together, as they did (partially) when he was first elected to the presidency? Did we get anything of note from him? No. And I'm not surprised. I've come to expect nothing but rhetoric and evasiveness from this man, and time and again he meets those low expectations.
Obama aside, talks between members of different races about the incidents in Ferguson could easily lead to hurt feelings and even violence if handled incorrectly. However, I believe that as long as discussions are about individuals and not about entire races and ethnicities (or very broad swaths thereof), then the whispers should be clear invitations for discussions to begin.
Ferguson. Yet another "teachable moment" born of an unnecessary action, injustice, and outrage gone by.
Rest in Peace, Michael Brown.
You deserved so much better.
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