In order to “heal”, St. Louis has been asked to have “a conversation on race.” This conversation has already been happening, and it is angry and uncomfortable.
The conversation on race is whispered between panicked mothers on the playground, shouted by racists in the night, chanted by protesters on the street. The conversation on race happens every time white families explain they are moving out of a black neighborhood because “it’s different when it’s your own kids,” every time investors announce a gentrification scheme, every time a black man is pulled over on the highway, every time officials tell a grieving community to “calm down.” Michael Brown and Darren Wilson had a conversation on race. Brown’s last words were allegedly: “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting.”
Or maybe they were something else entirely—this city won’t have a chance to settle these questions in an open courtroom.
St. Louis has been having a conversation on race since its foundation. But there has been an element missing. The “conversation on race” that has not happened is the one in which white people listen to black people discuss their own experiences—and believe them. It is not about respectability. It is about respect.
Read the whole thing, Ferguson Won’t Heal, at Politico Magazine.