Midwives of Change: A White Priest Responds to Ferguson

January 07, 2015

The Rev. Debra Bullock
St. Mark's Episcopal Church Evanston
Proper 16, Year A, August 24, 2014

I read an article in the digital news outlet, Quartz earlier this week. Written by a woman named Janée Woods – a former attorney who now works for a nonprofit focused on supporting community engagement, strengthening democracy and fostering racial equality.  The article was provocatively titled, “12 Things White People Can Do Now Because Ferguson”.  Perhaps some of you saw it as well. The title certainly caught my attention and quite frankly, many of Ms. Woods’ words called me up short.  She had noticed that after Michael Brown – the unarmed teenage boy who was gunned down by the police in Ferguson, Missouri – her Facebook feed was filled with words of anger and grief about his death.  But, when she looked more closely, she noticed that the majority of those posts were written by “black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, [and] Arab American Muslims.”[1]  And, when she looked to see what her white friends were writing about she saw instead, video after video of the ALS ice-bucket challenge and messages about the suicide of Robin Williams.  Ms. Woods has nothing negative to say about those who are posting about ALS and suicide; but, she did wonder why “an unarmed black teenager minding his own business walking down the street in broad daylight gets harassed and murdered by a white police officer and those same people seem to have nothing urgent to say about pervasive, systemic, deadly racism in America?”[2] 

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