On Racism

I’m not sure how to even begin to put words on the page about what has been happening in Ferguson, MO.

As I have followed the live Twitter feeds of people who have been there and are there right now, I have been horrified by the things that people are sharing of what they have experienced.

After watching a few of the witness testimonies, I don’t understand how people can listen to the outright lies certain networks are spewing just to make people feel better, so they can close the case in their minds and move on to the next thing.

I am scared for the direction of our country. I continually read satire posts that I can’t tell from the real thing. (See Poe’s Law.) I just read one satire post showing how we would write about what has been happening in Ferguson if it was happening in a foreign country. It was pretty condemning. What have we become?

We give our small towns leftover military vehicles? Ones meant for warfare? How is this a wise thing?

We talk about placing armed guards in front of our grade schools? How can a higher number of guns be safer? Didn’t we spend the 80s terrified of the arms race and somehow because we had achieved “mutually assured destruction” that made it better? And now we think that doing the same thing at a much less controllable, individual, level this somehow keeps us safer?

Ultimately, I’m just writing this to try to clarify my own perspective. It’s not black and white (you know what I mean!). There are so many different sides to this, it’s mind blowing.

I am heartbroken.
I am scared.
I am sad.

Racism is huge and cancerous, with deep, deep roots that will not be easy to cut and extricate. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible, and if it is, how I can possibly make a difference.

I can connect more deliberately with my neighbors of color.

I can speak up and against instances when I see casual and offhand racism happening.

I can be more educated and vary my sources of news, listening to more than a monochromatic and familiar echo chamber of voices, in places like Facebook and Twitter.

I can let myself be heartbroken, and not run from the discomfort when faced with story after story of pain being caused out of habit and lack of awareness.

I can be aware of, and grateful for, the privilege I do have, through no merit of my own.

I can consciously choose to raise my son with a respect for all human life, and the rights and responsibilities that go with it. [This blog post. Seriously.]

I may not be able to change the world, but it’s really important to me that I don’t just block out the things that are unpleasant or uncomfortable, but see reality, be cognizant of my choices, and speak up for what’s right when I am able to do so.