Excellent article. I am unfortunately one of the old, white guys who are guilty of knee jerk reactions to the multitude of incidents and situations that are steeped in concerns of racism.
I am standing at the top of the mountain, and though I don’t throw rocks most of the time, i am certainly guilty of a lack of compassion when the white guy standing next to me throws rocks down below, and he has a good accurate arm.
I too am looking for some understanding. I have interacted with a pretty representative minority population in the education business. The setting is suburbia, so my exposure has been to two distinct groups. Some proportion are middle class folks who have mostly assimilated with the neighborhood. The other group is comprised of minorities who have fled from urban settings and want to escape some of the stressors.
My provocation for the knee jerk reactions is this. Those families that are on the same page as their white neighbors are more sympathetic to me, as they want to claim the same dreams for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as their neighbors. The other group rejects the elements of the American Dream. They don’t believe in the land of opportunity. They overtly castigate the notion that America is special.
Moreover, the tendency of the black community to lump Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin into the same category as those whose death is clearly troublesome. Michael Brown is not an example of the oppression of the black youth of America. Neither is Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman is a jerk, but Martin is not rendered innocent because Zimmerman is a jerk.
Blacks have dealt with far too much unwarranted mistreatment. That fact does not lead me to presume that all negative outcomes are evidence of racism. Sometimes, it is, and a consequence is necessary. Other times, the reaction should be to tell people, all people, to respect and cooperate with the police.