The fact is that the nation has been having a conversation about race for centuries. There is no need to wait for the next impassioned response to a tragic, racially polarizing event to renew calls for a national dialogue. The problem is not that the conversation has yet to begin; it is that the nation is willingly ignoring the one that's long been underway.
With the current news cycle highlighting police brutality against African Americans, it is hard not to contemplate the continuing role of race in American life. Despite our progress as a nation and more broadly as a human race, we still struggle with seemingly antiquated modes of thinking that lead to unnecessary frictions between people.
Instead of arguing about whether Mike Brown had stolen cigarillos, or whether Eric Garner should have allowed himself to be arrested, we should adopt the language of "Black lives matter -- all of them." We all have a stake in creating a better system. But for that to happen, we have to be in this together.
While everyone has their eyes on the U.S. Department of Justice with hopes it will launch federal civil rights actions against Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, the two police officers involved in the Brown and Garner matters, it's actually equally important for us to focus on local politics. It's there that the power for change lies.