There have been many versions of Michael Brown's death, of Darren Wilson's actions, and of the aftermath. What has happened this past four months in Ferguson and around the nation has hinged on emotion and on issues much deeper than race, socioeconomic status, and prejudice.
Stepping back from the emotion, the facts are irrefutable. A strong-armed robbery. DNA and blood in the patrol car. Conflicting eyewitness testimony. A suspect pursued by a cop. A cop shooting an unarmed civilian.
Regardless of how it happened, Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. These facts are part of the irrefutable hand dealt that August day. But to play a card from John Grisham's deck, how would the shooting have played out differently if it had happened in New Haven, Connecticut, and both the police officer and the victim had been white?
Even if the races were different, the deeper issue is that Darren Wilson isn't white: he's blue. And that is the saddest reality of all. Many people of ALL races don't trust cops, no matter the cop's skin color. I have witnessed that mentality in my own friends, family, and in my former and current students. As a general rule, a large population in this nation don't support cops, they don't help cops, they don't believe in cops, and worst of all, they prevent the police from doing the job necessary to keep peace and order in our communities. They only want police when it is self-serving.
To show their disgust with the legal system, Ferguson residents and the despicable people drawn there honored Michael Brown by breaking windows, looting, and setting fires. That's how they choose to react to a verdict they don't agree with. Their demonstration included burning down their fellow residents' businesses, to inciting violence in their community, to actions that could have harmed their neighbors, friends, and family. How does that honor Michael Brown? How does that show a dissatisfaction with the legal system? How can anyone justify committing crimes to show dissatisfaction with what they felt was a crime that took Michael Brown's life?
Ferguson, Missouri has brought to light the biggest disease in this nation and one that must be treated, if not cured.
We are a nation built on it, consumed by it, and guilty of perpetuating it. The media is responsible for viral reactions. Racism is contagious. And classism is the most easily Socially Transmitted Disease of all.
If we don't do something about the disease, the epidemic will lead to a plague. Because Mahatma Gandhi understood it when he said, "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." We may already be going blind as a nation, but we are witnessing the worst symptom of a diseased nation: there are too many people screaming and far too few are listening. Instead of raising awareness for change, the carriers choose to raise a fist. If we don't find an antidote soon, we may be beyond a cure.