The shooting deaths of two black men by white police officers in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, and then the assassination of five white officers by a black sniper in Dallas, have shocked Americans of all ages, races, color, and creeds.
These tragic deaths that have filled the headlines this past week have unleashed a wide range of emotions, but there is no question that a sense of sadness is the overwhelming feeling that has enveloped all Americans.
The racial intolerance that we thought had been relegated to the history books of the 1960s and ‘70s, when racial unrest ripped apart our inner cities and large-scale riots were commonplace, has resurfaced. The multitude of events of the past two years, starting with the catalyst of the incident in Ferguson, Missouri, has made it clear that despite the progress America has made in the past 50 years toward achieving racial equality, our nation still is a long, long way from attaining the goal, as stated by Dr. Martin Luther King in his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech, “when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
At a time when we should be united in our desire to confront the threat posed by foreign terrorists, we are ripping ourselves apart – we have met the enemy, and he is us.
And what makes our sense of sadness so pervasive is the hopelessness we feel in terms of finding a solution to problems for which we know there are no easy answers. Yes, we could have better training for our police officers. Yes, we could have better gun control laws that would not allow the sale of high-power military assault rifles with armor-piercing bullets that place our police at unnecessary risk. Yes, we could spend more on education and other programs that attempt to end the cycle of poverty and violence in low-income areas.
But deep-down, we know that while such measures and others might have some positive effects in ameliorating the racial divide, they will not address the root of the problem of prejudice in America.