Can We Talk About Race?
December 8, 2014
December 8, 2014
It’s been remarkable, really.
The confluence of events and timing that draw into stark reality the continued existence of racism in America has been dramatic. The high profile grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri that exonerated Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown; the lack of an indictment by the grand jury in New York in the chokehold death of Eric Garner; the shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland; the killing of Akai Gurley by a police officer in the stairwell of a housing project in New York – all within the span of a month – has sparked a long overdue conversation about race in America.
It’s a topic that never really goes away because it is at the heart of so much of who we are. And when the Attorney General and the President and the Governor of Massachusetts all know first-hand what it is like to be looked at with suspicion by people or to be stopped by police because you are black, it’s hard to argue that we don't have a collective problem in America.
I commend ABC for devoting a week of coverage to the issue. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was very frank and pointed in his appearance on This Week. As the father of a bi-racial son, he said: “What parents have done for decades who have children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful when they have a connection with a police officer, when they have an encounter with a police officer. It's different for a white child. That's just the reality in this country. And with Dante, very early on with my son, we said, look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do, don't move suddenly, don't reach for your cell phone, because we knew, sadly, there's a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.” The question that faces us though is: Can we really talk honestly and openly?