This past week and over the last few weeks, the United States has been keyed into the dynamics and controversy of racial discrimination still present in our nation.
The recent court ruling in Ferguson, Mo. as a result of the shooting of Michael Brown by a Missouri police officer has directly rippled into our communities.
Maybe your families had at least mentioned the events over Thanksgiving or you switched on the news to see what was happening.
I was fortunate to read an article called “12 things white people can do now because Ferguson” soon after the court ruling was announced.
The article speaks to a truth that I’d like to reference; Janee Woods writes,
“As we all know by now, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenage boy, was gunned down by the police while walking to his grandmother’s house in the middle of the afternoon.
For the past few days my Facebook newsfeed has been full of stories about the incidents unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri.
But then I realized something.
For the first couple of days, almost all of the status updates expressing anger and grief about yet another extrajudicial killing of an unarmed black boy, the news articles about the militarized police altercations with community members and the horrifying pictures of his dead body on the city concrete were posted by people of color.
Outpourings of rage and demands for justice were voiced by black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Arab American Muslims.
But posts by white people were few at first and those that I saw were posted mostly by my white activist or academic friends who are committed to putting themselves on the frontlines of any conversation about racial or economic injustice in America.
And almost nothing, silence practically, by the majority of my nonactivist, nonacademic white friends – those same people who gleefully jumped on the bandwagon to dump buckets of ice over their heads to raise money for ALS and those same people who immediately wrote heartfelt messages about reaching out to loved ones suffering from depression following the suicide of Robin Williams, may he rest in peace… They have nothing to say?”
Woods continues on to lay out that, yes it’s her Facebook feed and cannot be credited as an accurate representation of what people are interested in or talking about.
But, what’s crucial for us to understand about the unrest that has unfolded across our communities is that anyone with/in privilege needs to actively work to make space for everyone to receive that privilege.
We all, even those who subconsciously benefit from privilege, need to break down discrimination.
We need to be aware of those who are present in our communities and to create just conditions for everyone; equality if you will.
I encourage everyone to spend some time reading Janee Woods’ “12 things white people can do now because Ferguson” this week.
Reading the article gives you concrete opportunities to be allies in the end of racial discrimination in our nation and our communities.
But more immediately, breaking down inequalities and discrimination can start on our campus this week.
From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, the Center for Social Concerns and the Catholic Relief Services will be hosting the Annual Fair Trade Sale in Room 219 of the Waldron Campus Center.
The sale gives our community the opportunity to engage in the holiday season while being ethically aware and conscious of who our products affect.
By purchasing a fair trade item this Christmas season, we can support jobs that pay a living wage and keep each other out of potential poverty.
We can fight for equality on both a nondiscrimination and an economically just purpose this Christmas season.
God bless, Jared.