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Dear US, All Lives Matter

Hundreds of demonstrators from across the country have flooded the streets of Ferguson, MO as part of a four-day Weekend of Resistance. They’ve come to demand justice in honor of Michael Brown and others who have died due to police brutality.

Demonstrators in Ferguson, MO at Weekend of Resistance
“MikeBrown30.NMOS.MeridianHill.WDC.14August2014″ by Elvert Barnes, cropped from original

On August 9, Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. His death has amplified the call for the end of black lives being the casualties of racist violence. And the world is watching.

Driven by social media, the unrest in Ferguson has gained a global audience of empathizers.  In a gesture of solidarity, young Palestinians tweet advice on how to cope with tear gas and Tibetan monks traveled from India to join the movement.

Despite the ideological and failed attempts by the US to export democracy, there’s no doubt that the US still has a ways to go to create real democracy and human rights at home.

One final note on the extent of this hypocrisy: consider that today the federal government continues to observe Columbus Day. Christopher Columbus was a brutal, genocidal tyrant responsible for atrocities against Indigenous Peoples—not the discoverer lauded in our textbooks. A growing number of cities and states have re-purposed the controversial holiday, choosing instead to celebrate Indigenous Peoples and draw attention to the marginalization they continue to face. And these sentiments are not only limited to the US. Today, several Latin American countries recognize October 12 as Dia de la Raza and Day of Indigenous Resistance.

Racist violence perpetuated with impunity by the powerful. That’s what critics of Columbus Day seek to illuminate and confront. And that’s what protesters in Ferguson have been trying to defeat.