I’ve been thinking long and hard about writing this blog—frankly, the idea exhausts me. I don’t know if I can find the words to express the feelings I have about what is happening in Ferguson, what I feel about our country and our president and our law enforcement, how I feel as the mother of two African American children, how I feel as I watched protesters and journalists tear gassed and confronted by militarized police officers. Just the thought of putting my feelings into words makes me want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head. I am tired. But my feelings and emotions are nothing compared to those of Michael Brown’s parents, to those of the citizens of Ferguson, to the citizens of Chicago and Florida and Texas and Los Angeles and New York City and everywhere else in this country where the lives of black men have no value except as firearm fodder.
Don’t argue with me—the statistics are out there, the video is out there, the reality is that young black men don’t have a chance in hell against our culture. Even if they do everything right, even if their parents stay married, raise them in the suburbs, send them to the best schools, shelter them away at night, even then their chances of being stopped by police, mistaken for criminals, shot in the back, put in a choke hold, arrested for minor offenses no white person would ever be arrested for are astronomically high relative to their population. At every turn they are discriminated against—they have been portrayed in the media as simple child-like creatures and as frightening monsters, vilified at every turn.
Oh, I hear you thinking—they just need to behave better, stick around to raise their kids, stop acting like gangsters, and stop looting. But that’s the media telling you lies. I’m not here to prove it to you—I’m here to rant about it and let you do your own goddamned research. For starters read Ronald Takaki’s amazing book A Different Mirror, then read this article: http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/11-shocking-facts-about-americas-militarized-police-forces and then this one http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/opinion/charles-blow-michael-brown-and-black-men.html?smid=fb-share, and then watch Marlon Rigg’s video Ethnic Notions.
Then, I challenge you to raise two kids of color and watch how they are treated differently. Consider being stopped and searched every time you cross the border back from Canada into your own fucking country. Every time. Think about being owned. Lynched. Flogged. Assumed guilty/stupid/inferior because you have brown skin. Then think about living in a systemic state of oppression and discrimination for the past 300 years. Imagine living in a country where all men are decreed equal but not being able to vote, get a loan, buy a house, get into college, or even walk down the street without being harassed. Imagine your every accomplishment and achievement being questioned, being assumed that your success is due only to affirmative action or cheating. Imagine assuming that your children have more of a chance of going to prison than of going to college.
Imagine that every time your children leave home, you may not see them alive again. Imagine them lying dead in the street, shot by the police who have vowed to protect this country’s citizens, shot not because they did anything wrong, but because they are Black. Imagine that you have no redress, that the cops won’t be held accountable. That the president of the United States has been silent (until today) on the matter–we’ve sent troops to foreign countries for lesser acts of aggression. He needs to stop being so fucking conciliatory and send in the feds (and hope they do a better job).
NOW tell me that you will sit quietly in your living room and wait for justice, that you won’t protest in the streets, that you won’t demand something be done so this doesn’t happen again.