The experience of being African American has taught me to be skeptical of official reports. A lifetime of color-coded, thumb-on-the-scale American “justice” has left me little option but to sift and fend for myself where “official” findings are concerned.
Hundreds of people marched, prayed and observed a moment of silence in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday, a year after a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death, igniting months of protests and a national debate on race and justice.
The timing couldn’t be more appropriate: Last week, barely five days after Dylann Storm Roof allegedly killed nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Justice Department’s The Ferguson Report, first made public in March, came out in book form.
The United States locks up a larger proportion of its citizens than any other nation in the world. Mass incarceration has exacted a terrible cost — on state budgets, on black neighborhoods, on economic and social justice.
This is the week that the Confederacy, and slavery, suffered permanent defeat. Yet these two stories are reminders of both the nation’s original sin and the prejudices, pathologies, and policy failures that continue to haunt us.