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January 30, 2016


In the months following the eruption in Ferguson, my youngest, then a sophomore in a predominately white public high school, found herself at the center of debates at school dealing with the fallout from the death of Michael Brown. The debates included: the framing of the issues by the media in black versus white, the policing of black and poor communities by law enforcement officers, poverty, looting, rioting and the color and face of crime as portrayed in the media, the identity of the black male narrative, and the relevance of black life, whether and how it matters. She was blindsided by the racial division, turmoil, hate, and anger displayed throughout the media and even in her environment. She did not know what to do, how to respond, what to feel. As part of an effort to begin a process of understanding and thus healing, she wrote a poem, subsequently published in our local newspaper. It is reproduced below.

This book expands upon the innocence raised in that poem in provocative ways. The information conveyed in this work is designed to push readers to ask of themselves the very questions raised therein with a commitment to seeing the challenges our nation faces as revealed in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death and to committing to work towards the eradication of the barriers of injustice reflected herein. This book is full of hard questions we all must ask of ourselves and of others, soul searching we all must do, and brutal honesty we all must face. Race is still an issue and while uncomfortable to discuss, can no longer be ignored. We have to figure out what to do and what to say. The future of our society depends on it.