THE BLOG
11/30/2014 12:27 pm ET Updated Jan 30, 2015

Dear Conservative, White Folks, re: Ferguson Riots

Hi there,

If you're a conservative person who was intrigued into reading this, bless you. I think respectful dialogue between people of opposing views is paramount to social change and that curiosity is where it all begins.. All that said, however you feel about it -- justified or not -- the death of an unarmed, black teen is a big issue, and the loss of a hard-working person's place of business due to rioting is incredibly unfortunate... But can we be clear about something? Riots are not just about the current issue at hand (Mr. Brown's death.)

In my humble opinion, when something like this happens, it awakens a sleeping giant in people. Yes, surely people are sad and angry about the death of this young man, but I believe it's much deeper than that. I believe when something like this happens, people are reminded of some pretty incredible circumstances in our country not discussed often enough. For instance, that it's been proven for the same crime, black people are routinely punished more harshly than white people, that a substantial percentage of the black, male population is behind bars, that widely speaking, as far as civil rights have come in the past hundred years, black people are -- historically and presently -- more frequently in poverty and lacking opportunities than white people.

All of these factors (and many more) making it more easy for black lives to be taken more frequently through questionable circumstances. (By the way, even if you don't agree that the police officer who killed Mr. Brown -- or the issues surrounding police brutality -- were/are questionable, a nice chunk of the country would beg to differ, which at the very least, means it's not clear cut.) In my opinion, all these factors -- which surely contributed to Mr. Brown's death -- make it a very complex issue, make the word "injustice" come to my mind and the minds of many others, and why I believe people riot... They feel unheard, and in many respects they are.

I believe that could be different. I believe people in Ferguson -- like in any other community -- can organize, rally and elect people who will represent them and make fair laws in their name... But that is no easy feat, especially when you lack formal education -- which, by the way is hard to attain when you've been poor all your life, and your mother and grandmother have been poor all their lives -- and opportunities seem few. Do you see what I mean when I say it's a complex issue?

In closing, I beg of you, please keep being curious. Please keep reaching across your mind, across the aisle -- and perhaps tomorrow at Thanksgiving -- across the table, and start those hard conversations. As of now, I'm in the large camp of people who believe the system is broken as well as the small camp who bust it every day trying to fix it. Apathy has a big enough following, please consider being a person of action.