“In Ferguson, a wound still bleeds,” states masses of protesters who have been grieving and protesting the murder of Michael Brown for over 108 days. http://www.scribd.com/doc/248115932/The-Results-Are-in-Open-Letter-11-24-14
Though few are surprised, it is disillusioning to so many who hoped that somehow open justice would emerge through the systems of justice in our society. “The process is broken,” stated one protestor when interviewed by National Public Radio. Another protester said they feel “betrayed by the systems of our society.”
Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said “We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions….While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change.”
Though most demonstrators were nonviolent, the few who used violence were the ones who got the most media coverage. Though we are sad for the pain and destruction the violence caused for local residents, we understand that it reflects the long-growing anger with how African Americans have been treated. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
There is much we could do to analyze the jury decision and the debated issues about the murder. But the real question for those of us who are of the privileged racial groups or economic class in our society is what will we do now to address the intrenched racism underlying what happened with Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, the recent shooting of a 12-year-old in a park in Cleveland, and so many more African Americanmen who are daily racially profiled and disproportionately arrested, incarcerated, and killed or brutalized by police. Will we quietly resign ourselves to this sad situation or are we willing to take seriously and share the pain of our brothers and sisters?
Are we willing to acknowledge our own racism and the continual pain caused by the racism our society was founded on and still permeates all of our institutions?
Are we willing to listen more carefully and openly to people who are victims of this racism and learn from them about how we can try to untangle its roots in our own relationships and in organizations and institutions we are a part of?
Are we willing to speak out clearly when we encounter racist actions or policies and stand up in support of those who are victims of racial violence? And then are we willing to work to change policies and conditions that contribute to this kind of violence?
I pray that there now be peace in Ferguson, rooted in justice, and that “black lives matters” may go beyond being a catch phrase, but take real shape in our lives.