This week has been a painful one for me personally and certainly for our country collectively. We are having to come to grips as an American society with the fact that there are in fact two Americas. One for white Americans and one for black and brown Americans. The double standard for how young black men are treated by law enforcement and how young white men are treated could not have been demonstrated any more clearly. I know in my heart that if Michael Brown had been a white kid, he would have started college last week. Instead, Michael Brown, young black male from Ferguson, Missouri, is being laid to rest, shot in the middle of the street and left there for hours while the police started bungling the case and have continue to bungle it ever since. In my opinion, every police “official” in Ferguson from the Chief on down needs to be fired. They have no business being in the law enforcement business given that they continue to display poor judgment and a lack of character themselves. Their obfuscation and their mishandling of the details of the case has been stunning. I am certainly no legal expert, but I am smart enough to know when I am witnessing incompetence on an epic scale, and that is exactly what we have been witnessing this week.
The pictures of what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri brings it home in a way that can no longer be ignored or swept under the rug that we have a double standard with regard to how laws are enforced. The efforts of those who fought and died in the Civil Rights movement made a difference in the 60’s, and some progress was certainly made. But since then, we have settled into a false sense of complacency thinking that the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was done when it had really only begun.
The double standard in this country–the way the legal system and the education system and just about any other “system” that is run by predominantly privileged white men and women must be faced at last. It must be addressed. And it must be eradicated starting now.
Ferguson, Missouri is just the epicenter of the trouble at this point in time. The needless murder of Michael Brown in broad daylight in a city street has been, I hope, the tipping point that will convince our leaders that the time for pretending that race isn’t an issue in our country is over.
I write this with hope that Michael Brown’s death will have an impact on us while it flashes in my mind that I had also been convinced in December of 2013 that the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut would surely lead us to reconsider our gun laws.
That pivotal moment got away from us and the gun lobbyists won. I pray that this pivotal moment won’t get away from us. I fear for the future of our country if it does.