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.
As a lawyer in that system, I know that the American criminal justice system is institutionally racist, even though the vast majority of people that work within it are people of good will. We can change the system, but that requires us to recognize the problem and commit to making the necessary changes.
As events continue to unfold in Ferguson, Mo., there are three questions we must ask ourselves: What are we to make of what is happening there? How can Ferguson not be the victim of empty promises of aid and justice that so often come after tragic events? And how can the community productively move forward?
When I write about Ferguson, I am not telling the narrative of the "power group" purposefully because the imbalance in power means that their narrative is implicit in our laws, in our ways of enforcing those laws, and in our ways of trying and sentencing those who are alleged to have broken those laws
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."