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I think I know Michael Brown was not a very nice guy. He made it through High School by the skin of this teeth. He was a bully and a thief. I think I know he was an eighteen-year-old mixed up, very large young man and not someone I would have liked very much.

I think I know Darren Wilson was a small town, small minded police officer who, based in his choices that day, had never broadened his horizons past his own environment.

Does all this mean that Michael Brown deserved to be shot that day? Absolutely not! Both men operated out of fear, this cost Michael Brown his life, and that by default makes Darren Wilson responsible…never mind, that he had so many other options (other than shooting) that day: wait for the backup he had called for, follow Michael Brown from a distance; I am sure there are several others that I have not thought off….

On top of everything else, Darren Wilson was a police officer – someone of whom we expect maturity, good judgement and protection. We expect more of our law enforcement that we do of our “regular” citizens.

I have three black male grandsons; two of them are young adults, the third is a toddler (his priorities are poop and play, eat and sleep). The two young adults are both over 6’2″ (190cm), they wear their pants on their waist, they never leave the house in un-ironed clothes, they are straight “A” students and their manners are impeccable. Still, we and their parents worry about them each and every time they leave the house. Could one slightly wrong response, sprung from a teenaged brain, cost them their freedom or even worse, their life?

Even with a black president, RACE STILL MATTERS in this country! It colors our perception of people and in many, many ways it determines how we react and respond to one another. This will not stop until we stop looking at each other as black and white, brown and yellow and decide that we all are citizens of the same country: Americans. We need to progress past the legal definition of equality, where in theory, we all can attend the same schools and universities, are entitled to the same protections under the law, where we can all vote and use the same restaurants and bathrooms. We need to train our brains to see in our young black men more than basketball players or drug dealers; where we see doctors and school principals, fathers and role models!

It takes a long, long time to break stereotypes and to change perceptions – all of us – black and white have a lot of work to do! And it starts with each one of us individually.

My husband, my sons-in-law and my grandsons are great examples of this effort. So are some of my white friends. Let’s keep it going, let’s make it spread….