On Saturday, I marched in Ferguson, Mo., responding to the call of the coalition of black groups determined to maintain the loud public demand for structural reform of law enforcement. One of the signs was "No Justice, No Profit," a threat of an economic boycott.
I would guess there were 2,000 people there. Whites were few. While we were marching, the heavens opened, and we were deluged with rain. The temperature was about 85, so it was a little like marching in your shower -- if your shower poured bucket upon bucket upon bucket of water on you and you couldn't step out to wipe off your glasses. We sang, "Ain't gonna let no rain turn us around." Signs melted, but everyone kept marching.
My car got there late because I went to the police station, which was not, it appeared, the start of the march. So we stopped at a coffee shop, looking for both a bathroom and directions. Because we needed the bathroom, we didn't turn around -- though I hesitated -- when we saw more than 100 white people coming out, carrying "I [heart] Ferguson" signs. They were in good humor and had blocks to canvass. My hesitation was because I was wearing a T-shirt that said "No más" and had a drawing of a man crucified on a dollar sign. I wore it for solidarity, not confrontation.
We ate scones and used the bathroom and then asked a black woman, sitting at a table with what appeared to be a committee doing planning, for directions. She told us where the rally was, and we were on our way.
But when I got to the march and saw how few white people were there, I remembered all those canvassers carrying the "I [heart] Ferguson" signs. Couldn't they have come to the march? Then all of us would have carried "I [heart] Ferguson" signs home with us.
Well, the black coalition was probably overwhelmed with organizing details. They had to recruit peacekeepers, rally speakers and cooks for the free picnic that concluded the day. And perhaps anyone on the leadership team who knew about the canvassing effort might have felt shy about bringing it up. Or perhaps they felt cynical, assuming those whites would never join them.
And the whites, if they thought of joining the march, may have felt they and their "I [heart] Ferguson" signs would be unwelcome. Or perhaps their leadership understands and fears the threat of an economic boycott.
But more likely, neither group thought of joining forces with the other.