There are so many reasons to be furious about what is going on in Ferguson, MO, right now, and many people more informed than I am who can tell you all about it. Here's one example:
So yes, lots going on, especially your basic every day American racism. In my own head, I keep making comparisons to education (not surprisingly) and there are a couple of things that strike me:
1. One of the best things my organization does is train us in non-violent conflict resolution. This takes time and patience but it isn't rocket science. The main idea is that since our primary task is to teach, we need to keep kids safely in the classroom. We don't escalate situations, instead we diffuse them while giving students a chance to learn how to control themselves, then everyone debriefs, and we move forward. Teachers don't have to win fights with students, they need to build relationships and trust so that students will be willing and happy to cooperate. I'm pretty sure this principle has been applied successfully to policing and I'm stunned by how inept the Ferguson police are being. Make connections with the community, take your ego out of your encounters with difficult people, etc etc. It is hard, but it is worth it.
2. Police are necessary and their work is very hard. It is dangerous and stressful and they aren't paid half enough. Teaching isn't as dangerous, obviously, but we need good people on the streets and in the classrooms and we'll only get them when we pay enough. When the resort down the road from us applied for a tax-exemption for their proposed casino, I was pissed. No. No. No. Local government needs that money to pave the roads and to pay for processing the drunk drivers you'll turn out onto those roads. When I hear billionaires talk about how hard they worked for their money I think, sure you did, but plenty of other people work damn hard too, and they aren't obscenely rich. Clearly this is complicated and I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
3. What can I do about it? There are lots of things to be done, but my particular mission is in the classroom. This year I've been given much more responsibility for my program's entire social studies curriculum, and if you're in 12th grade in New York State, that means Economics and Participation in Government. So we get to learn about how the world works and what we can do to make it a better place. That's my job, and that's why I get up every day. It probably isn't enough, but it is a start.