01 December 2014

Ferguson redux

The grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, formerly of the Ferguson Police Department, in the shooting death of Michael Brown this past summer, has reopened the wounds in the most spectacular ways possible – with riots, with tear gas and with a stunning reticence on the part of ‘white’ America to grapple with its legacy of racism. This legacy lives on in too many ways to count – to give but one example, the American state and its agents assume black children are ‘guilty’ in ways that they do not consider white children to be.

This legacy has troubling and often tragic implications. A twelve-year-old black youth playing with a gun was shot to death by a police officer who did nothing to confirm the threat, the way he almost certainly would have done had the victim of this shooting been identifiably ‘white’.

That the grand jury procedure would have engaged primarily in trial procedure rather than determining, as they should have done, the sufficiency of the evidence against the defendant to go to trial, with the prosecutor demonstrably failing to do his job, was reason enough for outrage. It should also be reason for deep introspection about the way the American society fails to value black life as equal with white life. And the saddest and most damning part of it, is not that we remain a racist society, and not that we have failed to repent adequately of it, but that we cannot even bring ourselves to see that we have a problem, but must instead discredit and eliminate all those who have that effrontery to bear witness to our sins even simply by existing.

Lord, have mercy upon us all.

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