A Time To Listen. A Time To Change.

Just listen. Sit down. Be quiet and listen. If you are not a person of color in America, you do not know what it is like to be a person of color in America. Do you want to know why people are angry enough to protest? Listen to them. Do you want to know why parents of minority children are afraid for their kids to go the store? Listen to them. Do you want to know why people feel like things such as justice, peace, and liberty are only available to whites? Listen to them. And when you listen, do not respond with any, “Yeah, but….” Do not try and justify. Or deflect. Or explain away. Just listen. Don’t post or share ignorant memes that serve only to inflame. Don’t promote systemic racism by talking about color-blindness and postulating about a post-racial society. Don’t view your neighbors or people in Ferguson or in any community as “them” or “other.” Stop trying to tell people why they shouldn’t be upset. Stop trying to tell people how it really isn’t as bad as they think it is. Stop trying to tell people how they should feel or how they should respond. _________________________ Last night was infuriating. At least it should have been. Although it was not surprising, it still should have made your blood boil. How often does a County Prosecutor act like a defense attorney of the person accused? How many people can shoot someone in broad daylight, have 7 witnesses come forward to say the victim was surrendering with hands raised, have an important detail lied about for 108 days, be tried by someone who should be unbiased yet actually is the chairperson of the accused’s fundraising committee, and still walk away without a trial? Last night was not about guilt or innocence. Last night was about saying that if you gun someone down in broad daylight you should stand trial and let your guilt or innocence be determined by a jury of your peers. You may not like to hear it, but the message last night was that black lives do not matter. At least, not to the people in power in St. Louis county. Last night was infuriating because the majority of protests were peaceful and quiet yet the news networks decided to cover only the violent ones. Last night was infuriating because people cheered the exoneration of the police officer and treated Michael Brown, the victim, as if he was the perpetrator. Last night was infuriating because people who have cried out about injustice and being treated unfairly for generations were essentially told to shut up. Well, I for one hope they do not shut up. I hope they speak up. I hope they cry out. I hope they get louder and louder until those of us who are deaf to our own privilege have no choice but to finally listen. I hope they act out so much that those of blinded to the injustice around us will have no choice but to open our eyes. _________________________ Stop telling people whose experience is different than yours anything. Just listen. And after you listen, start to do something to bring about change. Join in the movement to advocate for greater police accountability. Wearing body cameras and clearly read name tags protects the public and the police. Look for people who are in the business of advocating for those who do not benefit from the same privilege you do. Start to get to know your neighbors; especially those who may be different than you. Start attending churches that have a different ethnic make-up than the one you normally attend. Stop pretending like racism does not exist. Look for it and point it out when you see it. And by all means: stop talking. Just listen.

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