A couple of thoughts on Ferguson

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I like to think that I never thought I just hit a triple, but that isn’t true, like George Bush, I was born on third base and I have often thought I was responsible for all the easiness in my life. So my emotions on Ferguson are pretty detached and this is not a time for detachment. What I would rather do is post  several quotes that say what I would like to say, only better. The first bunch is from the web but the last two were from good friends who I don’t see enough in real life but still continue to enrich it on facebook, Ophelia Ramirez and Vern Smith.

It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor…As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented. Justice Antonin Scalia,

this outcome, and so many like it, are the result of a system functioning the way it is intended to function. Racism is baked right into the foundation:

Every one of those grand jurors might have hearts of purest gold. The outcome was predetermined precisely because the outcome did not rely on the individual character of the jurors. We have police aggression against black people because the white moneyed classes of this country have demanded aggressive policing and the moneyed control our policy. We have police aggression because the War on Drugs provokes it and we still have a War on Drugs because the War on Drugs puts vast amounts of tax dollars in the hands of police departments and a voracious prison industrial complex. We have police aggression against black people because centuries of gerrymandering and political manipulation have been undertaken with the explicit purpose of empowering some people and disenfranchising others. from Andrew Sullivan’s blog. 

None of that can be solved through having pure hearts and pure minds. Racism is not a problem of mind. Racism cannot be combated by individuals not being racist. A pure heart makes no difference. In response to systemic injustice, you’ve got to change the systems themselves. It’s the only thing that will ever work. Jamelle Bouie 

…..The Language of the Unheard.

I will not condone, nor can I condemn. I hear the heartache of a mother, and the frustration of a people, and all people. I’m looking out into a world so broken, saddened, without answers. Does the quest for the blood of one man atone for a justice that cannot be found? Fear, frustration, hopelessness, desperation….they all share the same face on a million souls. I will not accept that there are no answers, that there are no bridges. Justice too often appears like formless smoke, near, but unobtainable. I will not be distracted by sanctimonious condemnation of the act without the damnation of the stage it springs from. And, most importantly, I will not accept the loss of another generation, when so much can be done, if we reach out…..out into a world that seems so broken, and listen without judging, and find our common ground. To build a new future, to find justice, to end the cycle. Vern Smith

A grand jury of twelve people – nine white, three black – decided that the policeman who shot and killed an unarmed teenager will not be indicted of any charge. I did not sit on the jury, nor was I present at the shooting. I do not know, and may never know what really happened. Perhaps the policeman really did feel threatened and in the few seconds he had to make a decision, he felt the use of a firearm was the only way to handle the situation. Perhaps in following the strict letter of the law, the grand jury felt they could not, in good conscience, render an indictment. I just don’t know.

What I do know is this: racism in this country is alive and unfortunately, quite well. I see it in my own life. I well remember my brothers being pulled over and harassed by the police for no other reason other than the color of their brown skin. I hear it in the comments I still get, such as, “You are very pretty for a Mexican girl”, or “For a Mexican, you speak well”. I see it in my extended family where my sister-in-laws niece was killed in a drive by five years ago and the police have yet to catch the killer because, really, they do not have the time/resources to investigate the killing of another black teenager killed in an area where this is an everyday occurrence. And my experiences pale when compared to the 200 plus years of discrimination that people of color have endured, and continue to endure in this country.

I understand the outrage with the lack of indictment of yet another person who has killed an unarmed young man of color. I understand the feeling of despair. However, looting, rioting, destroying property, and possibly hurting someone else is not the answer. How does this possibly help?

What I also know is that we have an opportunity to turn this around; an opportunity to put the outrage into something constructive; an opportunity to turn from hate and know that love really is the answer. Think of the immense changes Gandhi facilitated through non-violence. Civil rights were in large part brought about through determined non-violence. Peaceful actions are more powerful than rioting and looting. More powerful than killing. And more powerful than hate.

I so urge, no I beg everyone reading this to turn away from violence and use this an opportunity to remember that at our core, we are one. We are brother and sisters all. We have, in this situation, the call to effect change through peaceful and powerful channels.

Today, how will you be peaceable?
Ophelia Ramirez 

2 thoughts on “A couple of thoughts on Ferguson

  1. Hi Steve

    Your friend Ophelia Ramirez has the eloquent if difficult answer. I can only hope that more people put away anger and fear to look honestly at each other as “brother and sisters all.”

    Arlene Grubbs

    1. Hi Arlene

      Being black in America must be pretty tough. I have only bumped into the ugliness a couple of times but they did leave a mark on me.


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