The grand jury decision has shocked some, dismayed others, and confirmed what many believe -- justice for young African American men is applied haphazardly at best. But the more concerning questions for me loom around the lack of transparency and due process. While many in Ferguson, MO and around the world believe nothing short of a guilty verdict would be acceptable, the fact that the accused doesn't even have to go trial is most concerning.
I've asked myself over and over, how would the stalwarts of the American Civil Rights Movement have handled the pronouncement and the anger that reverberated throughout communities nationwide? And how would they have moved forward to ensure it never happened again? Dr. King stated, "A riot is the language of the unheard." Certainly they would have called for calm and they would have activated a network of prayer. But, then they would have organized and developed a plan. That plan of action would likely involve a sacrifice from all of us to accomplish the desired goal.
Are we ready to make the sacrifice necessary, for however long, to ensure that the system of justice that our democracy holds up as being blind is actually applied equally? Are we prepared to operate outside our comfort zone to benefit the many? Are we willing to deny our wants for the greater good? Are we willing to continue to do the hard work started by the names we've become so familiar with as defining the Civil Rights Movement? And are we willing to recognize that most movements start with young people? So, it's imperative that the Dream Defenders have an equal seat to the NAACP at the planning table.
I pose these questions because they must be answered in the very near future. I wish I could say that we've seen the last of these tragic deaths of unarmed African American men. But we know that nothing will change unless WE demand a change. It will require all of us -- black, white, Latino, Asian, gay, straight, male and female to be engaged citizens demanding transparency and equal treatment for everyone under the law. That was Dr. King's dream!