Confronting Our Racial Biases Following the Death of Michael Brown

After the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, our nation has found itself faced with concerns about race, community safety, and use of force. To further continued dialogue amid the national debate, we are sharing an op-ed we wrote earlier this year about racial biases.

Investigators have not reached conclusions about exactly what happened that particular night in Ferguson, but the tragedy has clearly brought to the forefront longstanding community concern. Many of these concerns stem from issues of police use of force as well as issues of racial profiling.

The op-ed discusses the environmental climate faced by young men of color and in so doing helps illuminate why indeed this terrible tragedy has caused so much pain and strife within one community. As studies cited in the piece point out, we all internalize racial biases, regardless of how well-intentioned we are. Those biases appear in institutions from criminal justice to child protective services and beyond, with often dire consequences for children and young people of color.

There is still much that we do not know about how the terrible death of Michael Brown came about, but what is clear is that the community he came from has a long history of pain and deep feelings of injustice. Along with the particular circumstances of the death of this one unarmed teen, we should look to uncover the cause of the deep wounds within Ferguson and our nation. Our healing will only come from an honest look at how we got here.