Editor: On the one hand, the Eric Garner murder is unspeakable. On the other hand, it is the talk of the nation.
It turns out that we need to speak about it. We have had many wake-up calls — from 9/11 when we woke up to our vulnerability, to the emergence of the Islamic State terrorist group, which increased our vulnerability, to the disarray and bloody conflicts that have defined the 21st century to date.
But we haven’t given enough attention to the lingering inequality that African-Americans and other minorities of color suffer in our country — a country created to be not only a safe haven for the oppressed of the world, but a place where the oppressed could dream about and ultimately create a better place for themselves to live and thrive.
Are we asking young black males not to dream? Are we telling them that encouraging people to have dreams doesn’t apply to them? Are our police forces trained to disrespect, distrust, harass and even torture and kill them?
I don’t believe that all cops are bad or that our systems are all corrupt. I am committed to the rule of law — law made of, by and for the people. But it is a time for reflection and strategic change, simply to ensure to all Americans that they are equal before the law. Is that too much for this democratic country to ask?
What hovers above and beneath the din of largely peaceful dissent in the streets and quiet conversations in classrooms, workplaces, buses and living rooms is the chant, “I can’t breathe.”
We Americans take pride in fixing what is broken. We cannot tolerate the brokenness of our promise of liberty and justice for all. It is much too precious an obligation.
Publication Date: December 14, 2014