by Aneena Patel (SAR '17) and President of Kappa Delta Sorority Last winter,
Coffee & Convo: #Ferguson
“Well, if one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected — those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most! — and listens to their testimony. Ask any Mexican, any Puerto Rican, any black man, any poor person — ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice, and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice, or any concept of it. It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
Baldwin, James. No Name in the Street. 1972
When I woke up, fifty years later, the neighborhood is still grim. Despite all the troubles, sacrifices, studies, lectures, protests, art, blood, sermons, crosses, steeples, mosques, discussions, racial harmony, armies, flags, and nations, the big school down the block – at its best – is crummy; few jobs up the street barely that pay; and, the places where we live are dangerous and affirming. I don’t feel freer, larger, or more loving – unassailably constrained to merely survive. So, please don’t get upset with me if I haven’t been feeling the President. (For once, I prefer the truth of the academic.)
Despite the calm, is it all over? What is it? Lethal force; information vacuums; peaceful protests; uprisings; over-armed replies; law and order; income; not-ready-for-prime-time government; old-schooled civic leadership; uninspired and unengaged young people; black humanity; lack of imagination; America?
Let’s talk about Ferguson today? How about an after-work cool down – meet me in the Howard Thurman Center – 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Bring your coffee and your best conversation.
(Shoutout to James Baldwin for his inspiration on this post.)