I won’t even begin to claim an understanding of racism or cop culture or what happened in Ferguson. It all hurts my heart. It hurts me as a human living among humans to know we still hate and hurt each other, all the time. I’m ignorant of many things about the why’s and the how’s of that hurt, and I won’t offer any soft, soppy answers like people just need Jesus. After all, when Jesus was here, we rioted and hated and hurt and, ultimately, we killed him.

We’ve been doing this hateful, hurtful thing for a long, long time.

After the Ferguson riots, I saw Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted all over the place. One little line, a riot is the language of the unheard, on memes like the one above. I was curious, so I went looking for it, and found it in a speech titled The Other America, which he gave at Grosse Pointe High School on March 14, 1968.

In this speech, King does address racism and riots, and he does make that heavily-memed and much-quoted statement. But it’s made in the context of explaining riots, not condoning them. And he says a lot of other things, too.

Things like:

I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view.

I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt.

I’ve been searching for a long time for an alternative to riots on the one hand and timid supplication for justice on the other and I think that alternative is found in militant massive non-violence.

It’s important to me, I’m not sure why, that the truth is as truthful as it can be, and truth is not a soundbite. If anything, truth is a story, and as much as possible, I want to know it.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day one woman stayed sitting. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks defied a bus driver’s order that she give up her seat for a white man.


This woman inspires me. This woman’s tired courage sparked a movement and a leader. Martin Luther King, Jr. was chosen to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott that followed Parks’ quiet defiance, and the story continues… all the way to Ferguson.

I don’t know where we will go from here. I do know the story that will be written in the days to come deserves truthful telling, beyond the ground up, soundbite, meme-based fare we are being offered. For better or worse, the story is rich and full and complicated, and it deserves better.