National dialogue on race needed

Bryan Stevenson, a criminal justice lawyer and New York University professor, gave a speech in Minneapolis following last week’s news of the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision regarding the shooting of Michael Brown. Stevenson argued that the ruling and the racial inequities still faced throughout the United States are the outcome of an unwillingness to acknowledge and discuss the huge racial injustices that are pervasive throughout the nation’s past and present. 

Since the grand jury’s ruling, thousands of other protesters across the country — including those at a demonstration on campus — gathered to express their outrage with the ruling, which they feel is simply the latest example of a biased criminal justice system.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ budget plan includes $250,000 to establish an Office of Equitable Outcomes, which would help enforce racial equity guidelines throughout the city.

The plan has received support from many City Council members and citizens. Others have opposed it, arguing that it will be ineffective and another form of affirmative action.

These situations highlight the fact that racial issues are still prevalent in the U.S. We believe that Stevenson’s words are correct — the country as a whole must own up to its past. Racial injustice existed and still exists.

Discussions within schools, on campuses and in all levels of government should be sure to contextualize why race is still an issue. We should remember that only a fair and balanced discussion will move us forward and that taking an extreme view on either side is unhelpful.