As I sit here at my desk in Muskoka, I'm worlds away from the anger and frustration of the people of Ferguson, Missouri. I am white and so is the world I exist in most of the time. However, I try very hard not let my privilidge blind me to the realities of most of the world.
As much as I would like to think that the violence done to young black men across the United States, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice to name just a few, is a problem of backwards unenlightened buffoons of the Southern US, it is not.
The kind of thinking that leads to people supporting the cops and wannabe cops (I will not take the focus off the victims by naming these perpetrators) who exert an unrelenting force on the everyday lives of black folks, and other visible minorities, is not limited to "those other people".
Yes, there are many good cops out there, who respect the people they police and do right by their communities. But as is the case so often, a few bad apples poison a basket. And the racisim is not an American thing, as much as Canadians would like to believe it is.
Now, how does this all tie back to planning?
Thanks to a great piece by Janee Woods at Quartz, "12 things white people can do now because Ferguson" it is easy to draw the connections.
In the piece, which was written in August following the shooting of Michael Brown and the original protests, outlines what those of us who are White, and upset/outraged can do now.
Umm ... housing discrimination, white flight, police districting, that all sounds like things that planners have been responsible for over the years. While today we would like to believe planning is a field where we can help cities and people work together, it has a dark history of causing the problems we are now tasked with resolving.
Now, where do we go from here?
With the decision of the Grand Jury it is clear that while the cop will not be traveling through the criminal justice system. However, a new greater conversation is starting and I hope to participant in it. To be part of remaking is a privilege, and because of my whiteness I plan on listening. And to continue to examine my own privilidge and discomfort.
Oh and stay mad, because the Grand Jury pulled a bullshit move, one that is highly uncommon (unless of course the accused is a police officer).