Outrage Takes our Breath Away

Yesterday I was in New York for Wesleyan meetings and was shocked when the grand jury there decided not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold. The streets were filled with folks demanding justice. The death was ruled a homicide, and through a video we could all witness the horrible attack on an African American man, who just asks to be left alone. Yet, the officer said he didn’t intend to hurt Eric Garner, and that seems to have been enough for the jurors.

Charles Blow put it this way in a column this morning:

Racism is interpersonal and structural; it is current and historical; it is explicit and implicit; it is articulated and silent.

Biases are pervasive, but can also be spectral: moving in and out of consideration with little or no notice, without leaving a trace, even without our own awareness. Sometimes the only way to see bias is in the aggregate, to stop staring so hard at a data point and step back so that you can see the data set. Only then can you detect the trails in the dust. Only then can the data do battle with denial.

Our desire to live in a world without racism, without prejudice and brutal bigotry, shouldn’t blind us to the realities of oppression all around us. Let this desire energize us to make change, to not only alleviate suffering but to fight injustice. Education should help us acknowledge the realities in the world — not simply to accept them.

Education should empower us to change the world. To make it a place where all can breathe more freely.

1 thought on “Outrage Takes our Breath Away

  1. We both agree that education should empower the world, however, the quality education that is needed to actually effectively change the system is only offered to those of economically privileged positions! Capitalism and business are the root of all our problems. If top liberal art colleges like Wesleyan offered more financial aid and accepted students purely based on merit and not social status, then education can empower us to change the world. But when we are more concerned with our endowment than actually educating those who need it most, we are catalyzing the inequality in our society and exacerbating the main issues of today. This is not a local or national problem, THIS IS A GLOBAL CATASTROPHE AND IT REAFFIRMS THE DESIRE OF THE POWERS THAT BE TO REMAIN AT THE SUMMIT OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENTS.

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