I have heard throughout this ordeal involving the death of Mr. Michael Brown and resultant protests, looting and rioting of the “old wounds” that have been reopened. Apparently, “race relations” in the city have been bad for decades and Mr. Brown’s death is the straw that broke the community’s back. His dead body lying on the street uncovered and with questions as to the circumstances leading up to his death still unanswered was more than they could take. They were simply “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
It is not a new sentiment as I have witnessed with the death of Mr. Trayvon Martin and sadly, others, a sort of record- keeping of the wounds that their deaths had reopened. The death of Mr. Trayvon Martin was compared to the death of fourteen year old Mr. Emmett Till, who was murdered in Money, Mississippi in 1955. The unfortunate death of Mr. Brown was added to the list of those who had also lost their lives at the hands of police officers. It is a troubling tally.
And the images of Ferguson reminded some persons of the old wounds inflicted by Mr. Bull Connor and the excessive force that was used in the 1960s against demonstrators. The wounds are old and numerous. And it seems that they have only been counted and while there may be quite some time before we discover a cure, what of healing, of addressing the wound, of recovering and rehabilitating relationships?
Mr. Ron Johnson, the highway patrol captain assigned to keep the peace in Ferguson after the police there drew criticism for their use of tear gas and rubber bullets, during his press conference addressed the mention of old wounds saying, “It’s time to stop talking about old wounds and close them up for good.” Well, what say we to this? Do we want to close the old wounds so that we can address the new ones with fresh eyes and renewed strength or do we want to continue to limp along in this painful relationship?
If we choose the latter, then I believe that the old wounds of race can be closed with the stitches of conversation, the ointment of forgiveness and the bandage of grace. We have a lot to talk about as we have not dealt adequately with race. Ferguson reminds us of what we have forgotten or were to fearful to say.
Our healing process will begin in our mouths and with our words. Choose them carefully and remember their purpose.