In short, we have a lot of work to do my friends. The decision made by the grand jury not to indict officer Darren Wilson in shooting the unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown shows the deep need for justice and reconciliation to be institutionalized in "the system."
I don't want to talk about the decision itself. I want to talk about where we are as a society in history. Currently, teenage black males are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than their white counterparts. If this statistic doesn't show that racism is alive and well, I don't know what does.
President Obama said Monday evening that to ignore our country's progress on interracial relations over the past several decades is to ignore America's potential for change. The progress made in the civil rights movement of the '60s does show that we are capable of great change through peaceful demonstration and strong leaders who will push an agenda of equality and justice into our government. That is what we need in these times where black bodies are considered expendable, where police brutality is implemented and justified, and where reconciliation has yet to occur between communities.
How do we achieve these goals as a generation? The following explains three ways we can do so.
The first is simple. Vote. Register and then vote for those who are bold in their values, but who are also quick to listen and digest opposition. Vote for people who will work with those they disagree with to produce good. We currently live in a country where our government is filled with people who share extremely opposite views. As we have seen, no action will come out of a government where only two extremes are present; they will only bicker and point fingers when the American people are restless and ask why nothing is getting done. Therefore I ask that we as a generation become a generation that votes, because you matter as a citizen. Your values and opinions are valid, and it is when our whole population votes, that democracy works to its fullest intent.
Secondly, I ask that we educate ourselves. Educate ourselves on these issues; educate ourselves on cultures different than our own, for it is through the understanding of those who we see as different that we learn of our deep similarities as people of one humanity. I invite you to step out of your comfort zone and experience something new with your friends and family. Go to a cultural festival, a worship service of a different faith than you belong, spend a religious holiday you don't observe with a friend's family. I assure you that you will come out of the experience with a new understanding of not only your community, but of who you are as a person.
The third is the hardest. It is something I struggle with and wrestle with daily. Be patient when dealing with ignorance and respond in a way that educates others. Once you've educated yourself you'll cringe at things like racially charged, insensitive jokes made by friends. You'll notice the wrongs being committed around you, and if you point them out, you'll be picked out from the crowd and be labeled in a way that puts you outside of this group everyone else is a part of. The way to combat ignorance is not through anger, because when one replies in this way ears close off. Anger only anchors ignorance deeper into the mind. The way to combat ignorance is through education and patience. Whether it is conscious ignorance or innocent ignorance, the way to contend with lack of knowledge, is to educate, and wait in patience because chances are, the new information will not be recieved openly. However, this is the only way we can move forward. It is hard, but it is most certainly necessary.
Fellow millennials, I have much hope for us in spite of a seemingly dim future. We have the potential to do great things and push society forward into an era of equality. Let us work together in mutual understanding to eradicate racism.