Unequal justice

FI-EditorialWith Thanksgiving a mere day away, it’s not easy to remind everyone that there are things to focus on beyond pumpkin pie. But to deny that is to deny reality.

After all, Greenwich is a community with much to be thankful for. This is a wonderful, diverse community that’s thriving and challenging all the preconceived notions people have about what makes a Greenwich resident. Not everyone in Greenwich is a third-generation trust fund baby or a hedge fund millionaire, but everyone in this town is no doubt thankful to be here with a good home and food cooking in the oven.

But this week there was a stark reminder that there are deeper issues than traveling through bad weather to get to your Thanksgiving destination. While it seems that the tragic events of Ferguson, Mo., where the death of Michael Brown goes unpunished exist far outside Greenwich, Conn., things like this do not exist in a bubble. The issues affect the lives of every American, no matter what their skin color or economic background, for they show the deep divisions that still exist in this country.

For yes, while Greenwich is a community with diversity, the majority of residents here can take for granted that their sons or daughters are not going to be shot by police while unarmed. That should seem to be the most basic thing in the world. All Americans should have that level of comfort. But they don’t.

Equal justice is an ideal Americans should strive for, yet it’s something people fall short of time and time again. This is shown not just in the decision to not even pursue a trial much less seek a conviction in the death of an unarmed black teenager but in the media coverage and the public dialogue around the very real racial and economic divisions in this country.

Take, for example, CNN’s international coverage on its website that noted protesters had taken to the street in Ferguson and contrast it with CNN’s national coverage which blared that violence had erupted on the streets. Then note the tweet sent out by an ABC affiliate on Monday night that assured everyone that once all this pesky business was taken care of they’d get right back to showing the season finale of Dancing with the Stars.

The media focuses on property damage (ignoring that white people always riot over sports and even over Pumpkin Fests) and misses the real story, that black lives need to be treated like they matter in this country.

People want things to be business as usual, and for many it will be. It’s easy in Greenwich to turn the page on what happened in Ferguson and say, “Oh what a shame,” before turning attention to turkey preparation. But it can’t be that way. This issue should deeply disturb all of us .

Protests erupted across the country Monday night after the cowardly and craven decision to not seek criminal charges in the death of Michael Brown, and these voices are demanding to be heard. In Greenwich and in other communities in Fairfield County, it might be easy to ignore them. That’s privilege and something everyone should be thankful for this week. But it’s not a reality everyone shares. Racism didn’t end with the martyrdom of Martin Luther King and it sure didn’t end with the election of Barack Obama.

People are scared for their lives, and that impacts police officers just trying to do their job and protect the community. When unequal justice stands we all suffer. That needs to be on everyone’s mind this Thanksgiving.

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