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Don't Be Distracted

Updated: May 29, 2020

The grand jury had the responsibility of determining if formal charges were going to be brought

On the night of Tuesday, November 25, 2014; I sat up in bed awaiting the verdict from the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri about the fate of Officer Darren Wilson. The grand jury had the responsibility of determining if formal charges were going to be brought against Officer Wilson for shooting and killing Ferguson teenager Michael Brown back in August. I sat there in bed with the remote control in my hand around 8:30 pm switching back and forth from CNN and ESPN watching my beloved Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football waiting for the grand jury’s decision to be announced. Shortly after 9:00 pm, CNN began showing footage of a courtroom where the Ferguson District Attorney was expected to arrive soon to deliver the decision from the grand jury. Soon after, the district attorney entered the courtroom and ultimately communicated that the grand jury made the decision not to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson. When the announcement was made, I immediately began thinking about the protesters outside the courtroom building and holding onto hope that things would not spiral out of control with riots and looting. Unfortunately, rioting and looting is what the world saw in Ferguson and it quickly became evident that this grand jury’s decision and the chaos that followed had instantly become a notable event in American History. I sat in bed for the next 3 hours watching CNN and footage of cars being set on fire, businesses being burned, looting and law enforcement throwing canisters of gas into the crowd. I finally fell off to sleep around midnight and woke up the next morning with the images from the streets of Ferguson the prior night vividly still on my mind. However, I also found myself beginning to think about the deeper issues related to this event that we may be missing as a society because we’ve been distracted.

Right now there is so much anger about Officer Wilson not being charged for the murder of Michael Brown and this issue has clearly dug deeper into the already scarred relationship between law enforcement and the black community. The black community is enraged at the idea that a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager and has gotten away with it as they would describe. The black community has taken the stance that Officer Wilson was guilty even before all of the evidence was collected, presented and a decision rendered by the grand jury. Supporters of Officer Wilson have done the same by proclaiming his justification in the killing of Michael Brown before all of the evidence was collected, presented and a decision rendered by the grand jury. The reason both sides have taken such strong opposing stances is because we’ve collectively allowed ourselves to get distracted in the idea that this is a black and white issue. The issue of race in this country is obviously not a new issue; race is an issue with an ugly history of slavery and discrimination with deep and lasting wounds. And although we have made great strides as it relates to race relations in our country, it’s the historical recollection of racism combined with the present day mix of actual and perceived racism that sometimes serves as a barrier against real and eternal changes. The problems in Ferguson, Missouri and many other communities across the country are truly not an issue of black vs. white at its core, it’s an issue of good and righteous people not coming together regardless of race. Although we see whites walking alongside blacks in protest marches on the streets of Ferguson, those white are a minority just as they were during the civil rights movement. And the problem is not that more white people across the country have not stood alongside blacks and it’s not that more blacks have not stood alongside the black community in addressing severe and intense social issues. The problem is that good & righteous people of all races have allowed the flag of racism to distract them from the core issues that need to be addressed and they have submitted to the theory of “Us against Them” as it relates to race. Ferguson, Missouri is a reminder to me of the wars that should be waged to serve, encourage, uplift and unify people. These wars should pit right against wrong, righteousness against unrighteousness, fair against unfair, equality against inequality, GOD’s will against satan’s agenda.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about making our society a brotherhood regardless of race or any other characteristics that we allow to divide us.This is one of many messages shared by Dr. King that has resonated within the deeper places of my being and I reflect on this particular message now.Now is a great opportunity for us to begin connecting in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood regardless of race, socioeconomic status or any other category so that we can begin addressing the real issues that surround the death of Michael Brown.If we’re unified and focused, we can begin addressing the real issues related to the black community, law enforcement and the death of a young man with his entire life ahead of him.The flag of racism will need to remain in place and waving strong to bring awareness and consciousness to evil and destructive attitudes, policies and systems that are oppressive.Racism has always and will always be a reality in this world, but we can no longer allow the idea of racism to keep us separated.

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