Let's get real, America. Only by acknowledging and dealing with the continued importance of race as a principal underlying cause of our deficiencies can we ever hope to deal with and resolve those defects in our nation.
The only missing element in this Male Black Assailant narrative has been a weapon in the hands of Michael Brown. Thanks to Ben Stein, we now know that the weapon was Michael himself, a threat so menacing that it continued even as the young man held his hands in the air and said, "Don't shoot."
We need much more humane tactics in dealing not only with unarmed, young men, particularly those of color; we also need much more humane tactics in dealing with the mentally ill.
Only by participating in the political process, building trust and cooperation with people unlike us, and using our smartphone cameras to expose official misconduct can we make America -- to borrow Dr. King's words -- be true to what we said on paper.
If a black person can be gunned down and left in the street for over four hours with no disciplinary action taken against the government representative responsible, what does "equal protection" mean?
I fit the description. I was a black man.
The profound division of American society along racial lines is part of a vicious circle exacerbating a host of social problems, from excessive use of force by the police to mass incarceration and wealth inequality.
The shock is not only that a police officer killed an unarmed black teenager. That, tragically, has happened too many times before, and when the details remain murky, many people withhold judgment. The shock was that the police response to the protests was so hugely disproportionate, "like an invading army."
Could it be that, in a nation that has legalized racial profiling through such policies as "stop-and-frisk," the persecution of pigmentation makes African Americans indistinguishable from each other in the eyes of the law -- so much so that all are feared as imminent threats?
I think about my teenage years: Broke. Confused. Horny. Doing stupid shit. Which brings us to Ferguson. Which brings us to Mike Brown. Which brings us to a militarized police force that enforces laws on a community that it doesn't know.
For the majority of unarmed black folks who everyday fear for their lives, despite them doing nothing wrong, my advice to you is stop leaving the house unarmed. Arm yourself with knowledge of the system, civics and politics
I watched the movie amid the tragedy and turmoil in Ferguson, MO, and I couldn't help but draw a connection. While time may have passed since that disgraceful era, the legacy remains. I tried to recall all the news reports of unarmed, white men being shot and killed by police, and I couldn't think of any.
It can be comforting to think that the police protect us from the "bad guys," unless of course you are profiled as that "bad guy." Violence is most dangerous when it masquerades as good.
We've got to decide do we want freedom, justice and power with a clear vision on how to get to those places, or if we only want to vent and spit, until the next Michael Brown is killed.
It may be that police are no better or worse than the communities they serve, that there are as many bad eggs among short order cooks and cable installers. Or it may be that the nature of the profession has a corrosive effect over time.
Policing Ferguson: It Could Have Been Calmer, Sooner.