Connecticut Post, Dec. 9:

Questions about race relations in America cannot and should not be contained to Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., where grand juries recently declined to indict white police officers in the killing of two unarmed black men.

In Connecticut, high school students are joining the national movement to raise awareness by staging peaceful protests they call “die-ins.”

On Monday about 60 Ridgefield High School students dropped to the floor in the cafeteria for about 5 minutes and about 100 Greenwich High School students staged a “die-in” in the school’s courtyard with some chanting “GHS can’t breathe!”

The chant refers to Eric Garner’s cry of “I can’t breathe,” as a Staten Island police officer had him in a chokehold, a maneuver that is against the department’s policy.

Garner died, and last week a grand jury decided against indicting the officer.

Outrage over that decision builds on the Ferguson crisis wherein a grand jury a week earlier did not indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown to death in August. Protests, mostly peaceful, are rippling across the country.

While it is tempting to second-guess the actions of the police officers and question the judgment of the grand juries, the incidents underscore the fragility of race relations today.

Even with a black president twice elected in this country, we have not gotten fully beyond the stubborn hold of inequality, stereotypes and fears. Slavery was abolished a century-and-a-half ago, equal rights were enacted 50 years ago, but bigotry and bias remain in some places. In Ferguson, race relations can be too incendiary a topic for fruitful dialogue.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch turned off comments on its online editorials Monday, saying, “we challenged our region to have the serious discussion on race that it has been avoiding for decades. Such difficult discussions are made more challenging when, just to present a thoughtful point of view, you have to endure vile and racist comments, shouting and personal attacks.”

This is not an easy discussion to have, nor is it a simple one.

Dialogue must move from the flash points of the grand jury decisions to a broader ”“ and honest ”“ examination of whether our institutions have built-in inequalities, whether it is, for example, with racial profiling in police departments or lending policies in banks.

An honest examination includes people of various races trying to understand and ultimately accept each other.

The high school students are taking the first steps, and may the momentum continue.

NAACP leaders and clergy in places like Stamford are leading with a march to the Stamford Government Center planned this week.

Whether it is in a school or on a street or in our homes, let us talk forthrightly about race relations.