By Bishop Ronnie Crudup
No doubt the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri will go down as one of the top stories of 2014. It is a story which has captured the attention of U.S. citizens, and I dare say the world. As citizens, we have all been shocked and puzzled by the circumstances and the allegations of the whole affair. We have also been captivated by the sheer scope of media attention which has been devoted to it. I am also sure that, like myself, most of you have come to some conclusion as to Officer Darren Wilson’s guilt or innocence in this matter. I personally think that Officer Wilson is guilty of losing his professional temperament if nothing else, but the question of this article is not necessarily the guilt or innocence of the police, but what exactly do we learn from this tragic affair?
Here are my thoughts as to the lessons which should be learned. First, we’re not as advanced as we think in justice issues concerning race in this country. Second, a black male’s life is still vastly undervalued in this country. Third, we are sitting on a powder keg of racial emotions which can be triggered at any time. Fourth, too many young black men don’t recognize that their tough guy demeanor actually increases their likelihood of being victimized, not lessens it. Fifth, white power structures in this country need to learn that racial diversity is their redemption and not a threat. Sixth, the racial climate in this country and the world isn’t going to improve until African American leadership is willing to take a bold initiative to improve our race relationship with white people and others. Remember, racial harmony is the black community’s Dream (per Dr. King) and not the white’s.
I also want to suggest that President Obama is uniquely qualified to take this initiative and succeed. No doubt this racial initiative would become the signature accomplishment of his presidency, and even partial success would change the world as we know it. Seventh, each black citizen in his/her local community needs to stop being reactionary and become proactive in working with the police and other leaders to demand and mold the effort which will decrease black-on-black violence and confrontations with the police. And finally, if it can happen in Missouri, then it can surely happen in Mississippi!
As I finish this article, I want to call all Mississippians to action. As bad as the Ferguson circumstance has been, it also presents a unique opportunity for this country to make a strong commitment to improving our race and class alienation. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Therefore, I call on all Mississippians to get engaged and lead this country in racial brotherhood. As I always say, “nothing just happens; someone has to make it happen!”
Come on Mississippi, let’s be the solution!