Who is My Neighbor?

Muslim Community Center

Many of the struggles in conversations about race never reach us. They consume us as a nation only when the stories end in tragedies like the one in Ferguson.

Missouri isn’t the only place where those who end up debating the issue are the angry people at the two extremes. Because we struggle with complexities that defy easy answers, many of us refuse to engage in the conversation. We’re too polite. We want to avoid conflict. We’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. We cede the conversation to the irrational.

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Like Anonymous Comments?

Blog 8.25.14

Today’s Washington Post carried a headline news article for a few hours about the funeral service for Michael Brown, the Ferguson teenager who was shot by a police officer. I checked the online version shortly after the article was posted and scanned the first few comments. My eyes widened in horror at the vitriol and venom posted by anonymous commenters. I don’t think I’ve ever before read every comment posted on an article, but I skimmed all of them to see if anyone had posted a sympathetic or even a reasonable comment. At the time that I read, 58 comments had been posted, and 57 of them were offensive and ugly.

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How Does the Media Shape Our Views of Race?

Skis and Whighams Artistic Effect

Though the 24-hour news cycle began with the launch of CNN in 1980, I don’t really remember being consumed by news all day, every day until the arrest of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his wife Nicole and of Ron Goldman. I remember watching that white Bronco speed down the interstate over and over again, with the police in close pursuit. For almost a year, the arrest and the trial played endlessly on CNN before Simpson was acquitted.

One of my closest friends at the time was an African-American male. We had many conversations about the role that race played in the trial, and I tried very hard to understand how he could believe that it might be possible that white law enforcement had framed Simpson.

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Do You Have Control?

Denver Airport

“Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather. And your safety is our first priority.” Each canceled flight ended with this apology.

My husband and I took the news in stride when we heard that our flight would leave two hours late. We put our names on a waiting list for the only restaurant with seating on our concourse and texted our kids in Denver and Baltimore to update them.

I’m not a fan of flying, so I was happy to have the flight diverted and late rather than to fly out of Denver with the danger of hail, lightning, and wind shear—all serious enough threats to close the entire airport for more than an hour.

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