I have heard persons say that we have seen this before, that we have heard these police accounts and witness statements before, that we have heard the President, politicians and news personalities make these same arguments before.
Again. It is a troubling word when used in sentences involving the untimely death of a teenager. An unarmed teenager has been killed again.
Summer is supposed to be celebrated with family picnics, trips to amusement parks and vacations to exotic islands or relatives’ homes. Instead, the summer’s end is introduced by another teenager killed by a police officer. Children should not be killed by anyone, any where and at any time, whether in their homes at the hands of parents, in the streets of Chicago, Ferguson or Washington, D.C. at the hands of neighbors or in their bedrooms at their own hands. Children are simply not supposed to die but they do… again and again.
The tragic and unfortunate shooting of Mr. Michael Brown, Jr. has people talking. We are talking about the issues: race and its role, power and its abuse, the suspected brutality of police officers and the assumed criminality of persons socially colored black, the laws that need to change and the people that need to be held accountable for their actions.
We are talking about it again. But, are we saying anything different? Has we informed our response and change it since the last shooting? Or, are we repeating more of the same?
I propose that we continue talking about race but not to enter the dialogue as usual. Here’s how:
First, leave your neighborhood. If we are not leaving our socially constructed racial circles, then we are not saying much and we are not making any progress. Be bold enough to cross the ‘color line’ and speak respectfully to persons of other cultures about race.
Secondly, leave your pre- recorded race speech at home. We must enter the conversation with our ‘hands up’ in surrender, willing to believe and trust that we will not be attacked. We must believe that we do not pose a threat to one another, that we can and will speak peacefully to each other.
Thirdly, break the routine of race: Forgive. Forgive before all of the facts come in. Forgive before the verdict comes in. Every time that you are reminded of the hurt, forgive. Forgive again and again and again.
Finally, seek every opportunity to reconcile and pursue reconciliation. Make friends, real friends, with persons of other cultures. We are human beings; we have everything that is important in common. We must come together again and avoid these unnecessary repetitions.