The last few months have been pretty busy for me so much so, that I’ve not kept up on what’s happening in the world like I should. Two weeks ago on my way back home from Cedar Point, after having spent a great day with the family, we stopped at a rest stop. I decided to check my email while I waited for the rest of the family to finish their bathroom break. An alert crossed my phone alerting me to the unfolding riotous scene happening in Ferguson, MO. My mouth fell open and an uneasiness filled me with dread.
I had been unaware of what was happening because watching my local news had become a depressive chore, which fueled my obsession with issues of safety personally for me, my husband and for my children. I stopped watching because I was simply scaring myself silly.
Now my interest was piqued and my obsession needed to be fed. I mentioned it to my husband. He mumbled, “Yeah I heard something, but really not sure what’s happening there.”
We continued on our drive home. I didn’t give much more thought about Ferguson, MO until I was home, comfortable on my couch, with the television on. I saw the rage, heard the sound bites of the accounts of what allegedly happened. Then a day or two later the autopsy report was released and my anger, mistrust and fear grew. When will these senseless killings stop.
Why did Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Gartner all die at the hands of a crazed cop or wanna be cop. Is there something in the very nature of police officers that makes them this way? My father early in his career before he became an attorney was a local Sheriff in our county. Sheriff’s here operate like local law enforcement, they are simply based through the county that you reside, instead of the city in which you live in.
I have cousins and friends who are police officers and none of them has ever shot a person based on how they look outside of a suspect profile’s description. I have friends of all nationalities and pride myself on being a pretty open person to other cultures. I’ve raised my children to be tolerant, respectful and follow the moral foundation that we’re building.
What worries me is when they grow, mature and become teenagers and encounter people who would do harm to them simply based on the fact that they are black males. My children are going to be very tall, big men. But my five-year old, who is currently the size of an eight year old is a gentle soul. He’s innocent, silly, goofy and mischievous. All the things that make up a precious little boy. I’m struggling with giving him some independence as he grows and not just shelter him from everything, but its sad to feel like I have to prepare my child for battle with society. I knew he had to be well-educated, mannered, respectful and law-abiding, but now even more careful because the police or some macho wanna be doesn’t like the way he looks, or he’s someplace he shouldn’t be(which right now can be anywhere),or somebody has an axe to grind for some reason against folks of color.
A straight answer can’t be gleaned through the media, too many special interests and corporations controlling what’s being said, how its being communicated and by whom. Cell phone video and eyewitness accounts have provided another unsettling view of what happened. My conclusion is Mike Brown was at the wrong place, wrong time he ran into the wrong cop. Whether the stories of the cop being beaten are true or false, it doesn’t really matter. The autopsy shows the path of the bullets and bullets don’t lie. This case will be solved through forensic investigation and eyewitness testimony, if the witnesses are reliable.
If my father were here he would remind me that no matter how heinous of a crime or deplorable of a situation every person accused has the right to a fair trial. Unfortunately in this day and age crime is political like everything else. Don’t believe me, look at the incarceration rates for young black men. Documentaries like Afraid of the Dark, PBS documentary on Riker’s Island highlight the issue, but ultimately the causes, I believe are the same. Poverty, disenchantment with the American System, lack of education and a degradation in morals and values.
If this is true then how do upstanding, honest, respectful, law-abiding young black males make it, by being cooperative with police and addressing it in court later. I’m not saying its fair, it’s the reality. I’ve seen firsthand the harassment that my husband, male friends and others have faced. Its sad the state that we live in.
I personally believe in the system. I believe in the law and elected officials to make a difference, but not once during this time did any of the elected officials bother to make a statement until the governor was pressured to do so. A dearth of leadership failed the community and continues to fail us when true leadership is really needed. Instead despotic leadership rears its ugly head working for its own angle instead of the cause or the group mainly affected.
So where does that leave us, namely me and my family. The answer is alone. As a believer and supporter of community organizers change can be had. if people will work together. Therein lies the problem, people don’t work together because of their own issues. My solution is until the day that we all come together in a glorious Kumbaya moment do what you can in your own community, neighborhood and home. That’s where change starts. In the meantime I will be arming my children with the tools that they need, reminding them of our history, ceaselessly praying for them and keeping them as close as possible. I fear there will be more Mike Browns and as much as my husband and I continue to do for the community many days it feels like a waste of time. However, I know that I am setting an example for my sons to follow just as my family did for me. Prayerfully, my children will become responsible, God fearing, successful in whatever they choose to do, community active folks who will continue to set the standard for what should be instead of what is.