Before we turn to the next bout of week-long breaking news on CNN, emotionally disassociate from what happened in Ferguson, flail with impotent rage while nothing changes or wait for a Grand Jury to mobilize the best in ourselves, let’s explore the possibilities for turning this terrible tragedy into something constructive in our own backyards.
America is comprised of communities that possess the same conditions (racial tensions, policing challenges, etc.) that we can change — if we’re willing to stay in the conversation, that is. My friend, Ernie McCray, an African-American community leader in San Diego, started a local conversation with his impassioned article last week (http://sandiegofreepress.org/2014/08/can-we-just-create-a-civil-society-where-black-boys-can-feel-free-to-just-be/#.U_UXO7xdWpM). After reading Ernie’s article I reached out to a variety of community leaders in our region, proposing a town hall meeting on, “Lessons Learned from Ferguson: A Community Forum on Civility.” I got a mixed response.
Some folks were wildly enthusiastic about gathering members of our community, including leaders in law enforcement, education, youth leadership, politics, etc. and engaging in a vibrant conversation about “lessons learned from Ferguson.” Others were concerned that tensions are still so high that this meeting could easily deteriorate into chaos — and leave our community in even greater disarray. I’m delighted to report that a Town Hall Meeting incorporating all of these concerns is now in the process of being scheduled here in San Diego (as is happening in other communities, as well).
There’s no question that many of our communities are seething with underlying racial tensions. These matters desperately need our attention. Let’s come together and find common ground on which we ALL agree. And in so doing, let’s embody the very civility, respect and compassion we’re calling for as we engage in heated conversations about race, law enforcement practices, community policing, youth crime and safety. We can choose to turn our backs on Ferguson and do nothing. Or we can come together as citizens across America (in town hall meetings, commissions, community action groups, etc.) to avoid Ferguson-like tragedies in the future.
Let’s leave our children and grandchildren a proud legacy of being diverse-yet-connected communities that worked hard, overcame the racial divide, stood on common ground and deescalated the violence.
Ken Druck, Ph.D., founder of The Jenna Druck Center in San Diego, is a renowned grief and resilience expert, speaker, organizational and family consultant, and award-winning author of several books including, The Real Rules of Life (Hay House). Follow Ken’s blog or find him on Facebook.