A Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen, spurred the national debate on race relations and street demonstrations that echo the race riots of the 1960’s. While the recent grand jury decision made headline news, this discussion has been alive and relevant in America for decades.
As an African American woman I generally remain silent in times like these. It wasn’t until this evening, while I watched the prosecutor explain why the grand jury decision resulted in the way it did, that I realized why I remained silenced for so long.
In a world where racial tensions are the foundation of our being, where everyone is looking for a direction to route the blame in or a justification for the actions of others, I found myself torn. Torn between my race, my life experiences, my opinion and the society I so desperately want to be accepted by. Society has become so brutal in these times. Society has become so critical and opinionated that I feel we’ve truly lost sight of the things that matter: the progress we have made and the potential we have to continue this progression.
I sat watching the news for the first time in years. I cringed at the thought that my silence wasn’t because I didn’t want to be heard, but because I was afraid of how I would be heard. Afraid that my voice would be too loud, would be misunderstood, or even overshadowed by madness.
As I began to try and formulate my opinion of the “black v. white” issues of today, emphasized by the Ferguson madness, I realized that these issues are not much different then the issues we read about in our history books. As much as I wanted to think like a politically correct law student, who would say “the facts don’t lie,” my race wouldn’t let me see past the reality that we have a long way to go for racial and social equality.
After hours of pondering and going back and forth between my emotions and my logic, I was left with questions, an opinion, and more than anything, discomfort. I took to social media in hopes to get a better understanding, and in some way, I think, to have my feelings validated. However, I realized that as a society we were all torn. Torn between, race, our life experiences, our opinions, and what societal acceptances are.
I thought back to President Barack Obama’s Speech and it became clear. Our issues are overshadowed by madness. In the President’s address, he mentioned that there were real problems in the communities of color regarding feelings of “the law being applied in a discriminatory fashion.” This was followed by a statement that this isn’t believed to be the norm or believed by the majority of communities. America was then encouraged to understand the issues and figure out a way to make progress. With that I ask, if we, as a society as a whole, do not believe these issues to exist, how do we address and materialize the solutions?