I don’t like watching the news. Or reading it for the matter. It seems to always make me depressed about things I can’t control. But when the protests broke out in Washington and New York this weekend, I couldn’t ignore them. Even I could see that something critical was happening in our nation.
When I first heard about the Michael Brown case, I dismissed it. It was tragic, but it didn’t have much effect on me. I didn’t agree with those who accused the officer who shot Brown of being a racist, but I also figured that was their business. I didn’t realize that the outrage over Michael Brown’s death and the jury’s refusal to indict the officer was just the tip of the iceberg. Over the past few days, I have taken some time to look into the events leading up to Saturday’s protests. I was disturbed by what I found. I heard the voices of so many African-Americans who felt marginalized and denied of justice, and they were angry.
Since last weekend, I have begun to question my assumptions about race relations in our country. I had thought they were fairly good and gradually getting better, but these events proved otherwise. The truth is, I’m sure I would have noticed this issue if I had been willing to look. Just because I have not personally been affected by racism does not mean it doesn’t exist. And if I continue to ignore it, someday I will pay for it.
My point is this: as tragic as the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner were, one positive outcome is that they drew my attention to the race issue. I cannot say if those incidents were specifically caused by racism, but they have opened a debate on the subject. And a heated one at that. I am no longer willing to turn aside from that debate. I am willing to listen to what my fellow Americans, both black and white, have to say. I am willing to work toward reconciliation. I am willing to do my part to make peace.