Reflections from the Director: Thinking of Ferguson

Aurora Martin

The events in Ferguson have stirred much of the country into a state of intense emotion, and I for one have been struggling to find the words to express the profound sense of despair that no words can quite capture.

I feel the need to send out some measure of personal reflection, however brief.  In the aftermath of the grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown, I admit that I myself wonder how possible it is to fundamentally change the trajectory of our history and an American system of justice that has been in conflict with its ever changing definition of equal justice for all.

Today, as perhaps in many times in history, hope is not easy to have and our task as stewards of justice, as advocates to end poverty and advance racial equity, seems daunting.  As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, it is ironic that the cultural image of different people coming together at the table is juxtaposed with the continued fight to determine who gets to sit there and who will continue to be pushed out, or serve those who have the privilege to be seated at the table of justice.

In my mind, the intensification of the immigration debate with last week's Executive Order, and now the Ferguson protests across the country are very much about the dynamics of power and fundamentally, who is included in the American identity.  Who is branded illegal, and whose lives matter are reflected in the many "hash-tagged"conversations in the media -- in that dialogue of extremes, immigrants reflect back their voice and qualify their identity as #undocumentedAmericans and people of color reflect back that #BlackLivesMatter.  

The rule of law has been referenced to calm or civilize the riotous outbreaks across the country, but sometimes it has been riots and protests in history that are the voices rising from the quiet injustices that surround.  They are voices wanting to be heard. Wanting to be counted.  And however difficult it is, part of our job is to amplify the voices so they themselves may be heard beyond the courtrooms and legislative bodies. And as Michael Brown's family has said, let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.

With Thanksgiving gratitude and solidarity,

Aurora Martin, Director