08/11/2014 09:57 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2014

A Letter to the People of Ferguson, Missouri


Dear Ferguson, Missouri,

As an African American male, I don't even know what to say about the recent tragedy that has rocked your community. My heart breaks as I watch the developments of this story. I cannot imagine what Michael Brown's grandmother must feel like. How do you process finding your grandson's dead body in the street? More importantly, what does it feel like to be grieving a loss and to have no answers? Michael Brown was a promising young man and I believe he had a great future ahead of him. As a community struggles to deal with such a tragic loss, I want the people of Ferguson to know that we are standing with you.

We have hit a tipping point in America and enough is enough! While violence is not the solution to rectify this problem, I believe that vigilance and accountability are a great start. It's time for all Americans to stand up and say 'not on our watch.' If it takes communities uniting and forming watches in the community then so be it. If it takes demonstrations in every city in America then so be it. If it takes interviews on every major television network in the world then so be it.

I remember watching the Trayvon Martin situation and just feeling overwhelmed. That could have very well been me or my brother. In fact, I could think of a long list of individuals that could have been in the same situation.

All I know is that something has to change. I believe that if we all use the power of our collective voices we can propel change. Not another young African American male. Too much promise and potential is going to the grave prematurely. Too many mothers are hurting and grieving the loss of their young sons. Too many fathers are in pain and hopeless even though they tried so desperately to protect their sons.

Ferguson, you are not alone. This is not just an African American issue. It's time for this to become a world issue. I know you are in pain and shock right now. I know that some wounds will never heal. I know that you are struggling to answer the why of this situation. However, let's shift the narrative to what can be done. I believe that together we can make a difference. I believe that if we use the power of our collective voices we can make a difference. My mind keeps going back to the image of Michael Brown's father. That image brings up deep pain and hurts me to my core. We have to do something. This has to stop. We must keep demonstrating, keep speaking and keep uniting because we have to the power to bring about change.

Ferguson, you have the attention of the whole world right now. We feel your pain and we are committed to working together to bring about change. We must demand answers and we must hold the justice system accountable. If we demand answers they have no choice but to hear us. We demand justice!

Signed With Love,
Jamelle Sanders