I’m just one white lady. One really, really lucky white lady. One might even say “privileged.”
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the particulars of the Ferguson case don’t matter much, although it was the right thing to do to release the documents. There are reactions ranging from super-rational and puzzled, to anguished and rage-filled. What matters is that a wound has reopened. What matters is that racism divided the community of Ferguson long before punches and bullets ripped it apart. And their division threatens to widen to include the rest of us; it’s a wound that threatens to open further.
These days image counts for a lot. I learned in college that the reason affirmative action works is that it puts the image of success into a person’s mind; it shows anyone who might care to pay attention, and even those who do not, that black faces belong everywhere you see success. So I want to post some images of my own. Profile this:
These are my neighbors. These are the kids my kids looked up to growing up. Their sister taught my daughter Latin. Their dad has a t-shirt that says: Black Nerds Unite. Their house is the hub the neighborhood revolves around. Every one of those four kids is gifted in some way: academically, musically, you name it. They are never content to hang out and just observe, instead they are actively involved in some project or another. Here’s the thing: I know that if my son gets drunk and does something idiotic (which I hope he never does, but hypothetically), there is some grace built in to the system for him. Automatically. This is a grace that my neighbors would have to earn, if they can expect it at all.
My son’s former fiddle teacher is on the right. He plays in a Portland based bluegrass-fusion group called the Renegade String Band. If you are in the area and you get a chance to hear them, they are absolutely amazing. He introduced P.A. to some great technique and some outstanding music. He’s also what you’d call a social justice “entrepreneur,” starting a successful non-profit in a depressed area to teach disadvantaged teens life and work skills.
This is my son’s orthodontist. We chose him because he is quite conservative in his approach. He watched over my son’s mouth for years before he would put braces in it, and patiently answered my stupid questions. His work is high quality (meaning that nothing has broken despite my son’s insistence on testing the limits to what he can and cannot eat), and his clinic is jammed full of patients every. time. we. go. His son is also a dentist, and graduated at the top of his high school class.
Feel free, my friends, to come back to these images after watching the news. Meanwhile, I need to make some tea and cookies for my neighbors. I am privileged to know and to learn from them.