The Ferguson community is about 20 minutes north of our apartment and one other town and one interstate highway separate us. The community we live in is 50% African American, and those to the north are 80%+ African American. Having traveled two weekends ago and since last Friday, I am out of touch. Really, it is odd to see Ferguson articles pop up on Facebook friends' pages who live states away from Saint Louis... and less than five Saint Louis friends post about events in Ferguson. Two have posted concrete ways to help the community members, like families who are afraid to leave their homes due to the violence. Makes me wonder, what is really going on?
Driving to run a return to Home Depot and pick up our CSA fruit a week ago, Abigail and I listened to NPR. Three stories in a row covered Iraq, Ukraine, then Ferguson. Yeah, we listen to adult topic reporting (within a certain range of topics) when the kids are listening. Good conversations usually come up. We love to engage their empathy, and pray for God's justice and mercy.
Well, Abigail asked, "Why did the police officer shoot the teenager?" What is going on, that someone who protects us, shot someone who is practically a kid?
Off and on for about four hours, she kept bringing the topic of Michael Brown up. With such a complex topic that spans prejudice, less overt systemic racism, police brutality, socio economics, generational poverty, respect, and human dignity, both Nick and I try to ask her a few questions first before answering in short snapshots. In other words, first we want to know more about exactly what she's interested in knowing or why she's asking. Then, we explain one fact. It sinks in. Then we explain a word we may have used, like "prejudice". It sinks in or she asks another question. We give her an example of why prejudice is wrong from our extended families. And so on.
Turns out, many of our adult Chicago area friends have similar questions about what happened in Ferguson. It makes me wonder, what is really going on?
Although most of the blog contributors do not live in Saint Louis or Missouri, Release the APE had a great post today that is worth a read. Additional links (the first two are particularly helpful) provide context.