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.
As recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, move from headlines to history, I would like to say a few words about two very sensitive subjects: police brutality, and racism.
"Mommy," he piped up from the back seat in his sweet little voice, "I don't like people who have different skin color than mine." My brain sort of froze, but I stayed on the road as I gulped in discomfort.
Beverly Hills police and city officials predictably circled the wagon after news broke of the humiliating, embarrassing and potentially dangerous wrongful arrest of noted African-American filmmaker and producer Charles Belk.
People of color can choose not to care about Michael Brown or Darren Wilson, but they cannot avoid the problems of prejudice in the U.S. legal system. Unlike me, black and brown people in America can't choose to be uninvolved in this discussion because at any point, these issues might come to claim their lives, their children's lives.
Institutional racism is about a system the makes and has made it possible for "bad apple" after "bad apple" after "bad apple" to be recruited, trained and deployed -- again, and again, and again. Yes, individuals must be held accountable for their actions, but so do the systems that empower them.
If you're young, black and female, your identity might be a liability. Recent studies have proven that online dating can be tainted by racism.
The election of Barack Obama was the Lexington and Concord in the latest great battle of race in America. We are a nation at war with itself. For all of our desire to move beyond the narrow confines of many of the events of our tragic history, we cannot. The president's election gave new life to what had been lying dangerously dormant for the better part of 50 years.
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 you happen to be a follower of Jesus who believes LGBT people have suffered injustice at the hands of the church, your response to that injustice is a moral question.
Just look at the facts, and it becomes clear that America's egregious rates of incarceration of blacks and Latinos stem from the enforcement of unfair sentencing laws -- laws that are grounded in racist policy, and that are desperately in need of reform.
Hogwarts is run by white people, and let's not touch racism and Tolkien. Where are the South Asian superheroes? The Black people in Dr. Seuss? Make sure your kids know the world they see has missing pieces, missing people and missing stories.
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."
Maybe in our time of not-knowing, we who are white can realize that we should not try to be in charge for a change, that we should support the leadership of people of color, the experts in this movement. Maybe we can try to take a few steps forward together.
Black people have been dehumanized and disregarded in America since its inception; and it is thus time for us to truly realize that this country is not "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."