This afternoon I was looking at some stupid cat video on the internet, and I thought to myself, What are you doing? Not because I was wasting time (though I’ve plenty excoriated myself for that over the years), but because it was suddenly, so starkly different from the reality I knew other people were experiencing across the country.

I have been so sad, so very sad and angry about the events taking place in Ferguson, MO, starting with the murder of Michael Brown and ending…nowhere. It just doesn’t end. The lack of transparency, the militarized police, the arrest of peaceful protestors* and journalists, the tone-deafness of comments like this one (from Ferguson’s mayor), which completely ignore the root of the situation:

“There’s not a racial divide in the city of Ferguson. That is the perspective of all residents of the city.”

That isn’t even an ignorant statement, it’s an insane statement. Whatever you might think about the protestors or the police, it’s painfully obvious that race (or more accurately, racism) has played a large part in how these events have unfolded. If political leaders aren’t able to stand up and recognize the raw anger and woe at work, how can we hope to make progress? How can we hope for peace?

If you want to support Mike Brown’s family and the protestors in Ferguson, here is a list of many ways you can do that. And I would add to this list: just be aware. Be open. Try to be good to one another. Try to do right. Try to be kind. (And keep an eye on the #Ferguson hashtag on Twitter for on-the-ground updates from protestors, politicians, and journalists. This has been, from my perspective, the best way to stay up to date on what’s happening. Of course you can’t trust everything you read on Twitter, but as I taught my ENG 101 students not so long ago: you can’t 100% trust anything you read. All news, all reporting, all narrative has an angle that you as a reader & a thinking human must interrogate.)

Everyone has the right to feel safe in America, no matter their race. And right now, that isn’t the case for a lot of people. Let’s do good.**

*Yes, I know there’s a small subset of non-peaceful protestors, but everything I’ve seen suggests they are in the MINORITY, and that most of the arrests have been for unlawful assembly.
**And while we’re at it, here’s a great essay about a teacher – my friend & co-VIDA coordinator Sarah Marcus, doing her best in a tough situation, and doing beautifully.