I won’t write this blog pretending to know much of anything about Cleveland’s history and race relations. I have lived here for 23 years, which is a long time, but not nearly long enough to understand the history of the chasm between blacks and whites in Cleveland. I can only say what I think, express what I feel.
This morning, I can’t help but wonder how we prevent Cleveland from becoming Ferguson. How can we, as citizens who look in horror at the pictures of events coming out of Missouri in the wake of young Michael Brown’s death, work proactively to make sure this doesn’t happen here? To stop similar events that are happening elsewhere? Can we do anything? I don’t know. But at least we need to open the dialog about it, I think. All of my African-American friends are posting and talking about it, but few whites are. Maybe we are afraid to bring it up. Maybe we don’t feel we have the right to act outraged – he was not our boy, it is not our town, his family is not our race.
But he WAS ours. He was an American citizen and a young man with his future ahead of him. An unarmed citizen, in a long line of so many we are ashamed to give voice to it, who are harassed or even killed because of their skin color. It’s abhorrent to me. It’s abhorrent to many of my friends. I am the mother of a boy. A white boy, who will probably not be followed while he shops to make sure he doesn’t shoplift. Who could be stopped for a traffic violation and not taken to jail, just given a citation and sent on his way. Who would presumably not be gunned down in the street, unarmed, for no good reason, because there is no good reason. Who would not be choked to death on a NYC city street for selling cigarettes.
Racism seems to have flared back up ever since Obama became our President, like a virus that will not go away. Many of the stupid people involved with racist behavior are trying to drag our country back to the past. Every denigration of Obama that is tinged with racism makes me cringe. Have we not moved forward at all? We cannot passively wait for an answer.
Our East and West sides are famously divided. Crime is on the rise on the near west side as well; only a few weeks ago, two children on bikes were held up at gunpoint. CHILDREN ON BIKES. We cannot let this continue. We cannot let things get worse. We have to talk about this. We have to fix it. I cannot walk on a rug under which this boy’s death has been swept.
What can we do? What can we do?