Man! What a proud night in America it is! It’s so nice to know that not only are racist cops allowed to shoot black unarmed teenagers with impunity, but so are those who just really, really like to pretend that they’re racist cops.
The theme of this blog is being a grown-up, and grown-ups do something besides post angry Facebook statuses when they’re upset. None of us can magically End Racism Forever! but if you are horrified by what happened tonight, don’t let that just evaporate like seafoam in the sun. Do something.
1. Take some time to feel deeply angry and upset. This is deeply, deeply upsetting to reasonable people. But — remember that there are people out there, a lot of them, who are indeed working very, very hard to combat this ugliness, and you can help them. Going and spending some time on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website is a good start.
2. If you live in a state that has a Stand Your Ground law or Castle Doctrine in effect (that would be — I believe — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) spend a few minutes Googling to see if there is an opposition group. If so, get involved.
If not, write to your state representative. I’m serious. There are some reasonable, non-gun-nut states on that list — California, Maine, Massachusetts, etc. — and if something is going to change, it has to change NOW. This will be forgotten in three weeks, at least in terms of actionable public sentiment.
3. If you do live in a progressive state (the kind where people pride themselves on their non-racism coughOregoncough) do not assume that this is something that only happens in the bad, bad, racist south.
There is nowhere in America untouched by institutional racism. It’s real and it’s everywhere and it shouldn’t take a sad, internally ugly man getting away with murder to demonstrate. Wherever you are, your city and your state need work and it will not be accomplished via social media statuses alone.
TL;DR: The way you feel tonight? It’s necessary, but doesn’t help anything. What will help is channeling that anger into meaningful action.
What am I missing?