The killing of Michael Brown and the lingering, malignant racism in our country that has led to such agonized and powerful feelings of justice not being served point to an undeniable reality that hurts all of us and that demands a response from our community.
That reality includes but is much bigger than the question about whether the officer who shot Michael Brown had valid reason to fear for his life. In a sense it doesn’t really matter what you think about the reliability of eyewitness accounts or the way the investigation and grand jury proceeding went down. What is impossible to ignore in the ghastly light of the violent death of another young, unarmed black man and its affect on the people of Ferguson is the following:
1. There are entrenched, gaping, racial and economic divides in our society.
2. Violence is bound up with those divides, both as a result of them and as a means of enforcing them.
3. The mere fact that reactions to the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson have been so different in the black and white communities is proof of a wide gulf that separates the experiences of those groups. Lets get biblical with our language here. There are those whose realities are shaped by powers and principalities most of us don’t ever see. There are forces of darkness that most people in this country are privileged to ignore. To deny this experience isn’t a sign of greater enlightenment, it is a sign of arrogance born of self-righteousness.