We need to change

“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” Michael Brown’s family said. “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.” The statement came in response to a grand jury’s failure to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who shot Brown in August, 2014.[1]

The trouble here, obviously, is that the system cannot be fixed. Perhaps non-coincidentally, Atlantic Magazine reposted the link to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s article, “The Case for Reparations.” Coates points to a history of a system in the United States and, one would presume, elsewhere that is racist to its core and that depends upon stealing from, robbing, and defrauding vulnerable people.[2] I won’t rehash Coates’s article here, but you really should read the whole thing. Those who limit their political thinking to the “politics of the possible” need to understand that they are complicit with an exploitation of humans and nature that is essential to our system of social organization.[3]

Our survival as a species depends upon our ability to change. I still have very reason to hope that we will.

  1. [1]Monica Davey and Julie Bosman, “Protests After Ferguson Officer Is Not Indicted,” New York Times, November 24, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/us/ferguson-darren-wilson-shooting-michael-brown-grand-jury.html
  2. [2]Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” Atlantic, June 2014, http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
  3. [3]John H. Bodley, Victims of Progress, 5th ed. (Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2008).

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