Many white Ferguson, Mo., residents in the majority-black city, from small-business owners to the mayor and police chief, are questioning their beliefs about the community's racial dynamics, says the Washington Post. Residents have discovered in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting and the protests that ensued that blacks and whites here profoundly disagree about the existence of racism and the fairness of the justice system. Whites who once believed their town was an exception in a nation struggling with racial divisions have to confront the possibility it is not.
Neither side seems comfortable listening to the other's perspective. The Justice Department hosted a town hall yesterday race relations. The meeting, as in previous agency-sponsored community gatherings, was closed to the news media. “I keep a lot of African American friends — some of my dearest friends — but when we hang out at the brew house, we don't talk about these issues, ” said Mayor James Knowles III, who is white. “A lot of residents are going, 'Damn, I never realized my friends felt that way or had these experiences.' ” Knowles has been criticized locally and nationally for asserting that his city does not have a race problem.