It has taken me a few days to write about the unfolding events in Ferguson and now NYC. My heart has been so broken and saddened. Having grown up in the deep South I know there is a definite undercurrent of racism in our country. I have seen it. Memphis the place where Dr. King was murdered has always been a two tier city. It has been one city for whites and another for blacks. Racism infects everyone and everything in this country. Even if you are person who is not a racist, we are all touched by the inherent racism in the systems of our nation from education to government, to the justice/injustice system, health care, business, religion- everything in our United States of America has been tinged with racism. So much so that many of us can’t even see it when it is in front of us. Even as we promote civil rights for all and indeed we have made much progress in our Country in recent decades, we are far from confronting head on the effects of that deep racism.
The recent cases all over the country-not just in Ferguson, MO or NYC but in Los Angeles and Cleveland and myriads of other towns, hamlets and villages and cities speak to a continuing harassment by law enforcement of people of color. Driving while black or brown is not just a joke it is real. I have watched it happen.
In the Eric Garner case since the Grand Jury came back without recommending some sort of trial coupled with the similar outcomes in the Michael Brown case and others we are seeing the frustrations boil over. And it should be all of us who are outraged.
No one is talking about the way these cases are also informed by poverty. No one is talking about the way these cases are examples of poor policing. No one is talking about the ingrained bigotry that infects our society.
But we must. We must talk about. And when we are through confronting our fears and our hopes we must dismantle the systems which continue to hold black and brown people at a disadvantage. There is enough of the Pie for everyone. The Pie keeps growing, not shrinking when everyone has access to a good education and the possibility of proper work to take care of a family, and most importantly when a black man can walk down the street without suspicion that he is automatically doing something wrong.
I pray for the lives of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice and so many others. I pray for their families. And I pray for our nation to heal itself from the dis-ease of racism and bigotry.