I’m typically pretty opinionated about things, yes I use to be one of those people who would spout off on Facebook about something before ever knowing the facts. Yes, I was even one of those people who would stop at a headline and form an opinion from there, an ignorant opinion. Let me tell you, ignorance is not bliss. Not even close to it. Ignorance is dangerous.

I bring this up today because of all of the ignorance I’ve seen on Facebook and I’ve heard people speak this week in regards to Baltimore, it’s the same ignorance that came up during Ferguson.

I should do a check to make sure I’m even using the term “ignorance” correctly. Webster defines it as, “resulting from or showing lack of knowledge or intelligence.” So it’s not really an insult to refer to a person as ignorant, it’s just showing you understand that they’re not educated on the topic at hand. So really, we’re all ignorant to an extent.

After observing how everyone has reacted this week, I think one of the best ways we as a society can progress past racists rants (accidental or on purpose), and police hating banter, is education.

I can’t speak on the racist remarks made by A LOT of people, all I can really say is it’s wrong. It’s that simple. Humans are humans. If we want to progress as a society we need to show love and acceptance, nothing less.

I can speak on the hateful remarks made about the police. Those comments are all just as ignorant as the racist comments I’ve read and heard. I’m not saying the police are always right, and I’m not saying there’s not a problem with some that abuse their power. I am saying MOST people who take on the responsibility of serving the public are good people. I get it though, no one likes the hall monitor.

A blog I wrote back in the winter explained that I had started back to college and was taking classes in criminal justice. Well, I just finished up my first semester and I’ve walked away with a totally different understanding of the entire system. One of the things that’s taught to criminal justice students is there is a problem with black Americans being treated harsher than other races. That is a fact. This class also teaches why police do the things they do, common myths (pretty much everything you’ve heard from your friends), and proper procedures for exercising your rights as a citizen if you think you’re being treated unfairly.

I can sum up this entire blog and the point I'm trying to make in just one line: As citizens of the United States we need to better educate ourselves. I’m not talking about spouting off what you THINK you know, I’m talking about actually going out and LEARNING about the topic at hand. Sign up for a course to learn about other races and ethnicities, learn about their struggles. Take a class to learn how our justice system works, don’t just watch Law and Order or a few videos on YouTube, no, get out and do some real learning. Becoming a more dynamic individual never hurt anyone.

Before we open our mouths, we need to understand the facts, the “whys,” and form an educated opinion. There’s nothing more dangerous than a loud person with a half-cocked conviction.

This is not an official endorsement, but if you're looking to get started, Grand Rapids Community College’s Intro to Criminal Justice is a great course, and is offered online.