Thoughts on Ferguson

There are things I know and things I do not know.

Do you feel that if something were to happen to a member of your family the legal system would go to the furthest lengths to make sure justice was achieved. Do you feel that, historically, families like your own have been supported by the legal system? I know that how we answer these questions impacts the lens through which we see recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York, New York. I know that my family and families like my own have privileges in our society that other families do not have. I know that these privileges are harder to see when you have them.

I do not know what I would do if I did not feel that my family was protected by the legal system or if something happened to a member of my family and justice was not served. I do not know what I would do if I saw that other families like my own did not feel supported by the justice system for generation after generation. I do not know what I would do if I were told by people that my family and families like my own were somehow responsible for the way we were being treated by the legal system. I don’t know if I would become angry, despondent, hopeless or a combination of all three. I do know I would have a reaction.

I do know that our law enforcement ranks are filled with good people who risk their lives daily to protect us. I do know something about their official training, but I do not know about their unofficial training. I hope more can be done to support the multitudes of people within law enforcement who see a better way forward than what we are witnessing today.

I do know that education in our schools is one part of the answer. I do know that reading books by authors like Morrison, Melville, Ellison, Fanon, King, Hurston and West can challenge our perceptions of the world and ask us to think more critically and empathetically about the experiences of others within our communities. I have personally learned that listening and asking questions can be more powerful than talking when I am confronted with events or actions that do not make sense.

I do know that there is and will always be important work to be done in our local communities, in our country, and around the world to foster better understandings and avoid tragedies that impact all parties involved and leave deep scars within our culture. I do know that single events are always seen in context or through different lenses depending on our own perspectives and understandings. I have learned that I must pause and seek understanding before acting when it appears that a single event is clearly seen by others through a different lens than my own.

I know that today I am sad, but I know that I have hope in education and in the generation of young people in our schools.