A week ago, the grand jury announced their decision not to indict former police officer Darren Wilson on the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. Many reacted in shock at the decision and firmly believed in the overwhelming evidence that the shooting of Michael Brown was not act of self-defense but of racial violence. Thousands of people flooded into the streets of major cities all across America in protest of police brutality. Most protests were peaceful, but some turned violent. President Obama issued a special speech on the eve of the protests urging protesters to remain peaceful. On my Facebook newsfeed, friends were posting emotional reactions, expressing their mistrust for the judicial system and personal experiences with racial injustice. I noticed hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #nojusticenopeace all over the place. I couldn’t help but empathize with all of the terrible things I read online, reflecting on my own experiences as a Dominican-American growing up in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood of New York City.
My homecoming to New York City for Thanksgiving break was delayed due to traffic. Protesters had closed down major streets, bridges and highways to raise awareness of the issue. Through its pristine veneer, America has witnessed in the past week that it is by no means post-racial and faces many challenges ahead to create a more egalitarian society for people of all racial backgrounds.
At Middlebury, students have prepared to take action on this issue on campus. This afternoon, there will be a walk out event organized by students to show their solidarity for the thousands of people across the country protesting. Students will be encouraged to walk out of their classes, work, library, dining hall and dorms in the middle of the day for a few moments of reflection.It has been inspiring for me to see people passionately come together around a common cause, share personal stories and experiences with each other to arrive to a better understanding of the events that are occurring throughout the country.