September 3, 2014

It's Always About Race, Until It's Not

An Unpopular Opinion About the Shooting of Unarmed Teen Michael Brown

I am going to post an unpopular opinion, broken down into three points, about the events in Ferguson and move on. I will not move on because I do not care, but because I believe in what I am about to say.

To date, there have been countless thought pieces about the shooting of unarmed teen, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the militarized police force that occupied the town in response to community protest. Some of them have been amazing, some have been absolutely irresponsible (Ahem, the New York Times). As it stands, Darren Wilson (the offending officer who killed Brown), is in an unknown location, has not been indicted, and swimming in half a million dollars. Michael Brown is dead. His parents buried him on August 25th. Now I am not a lawyer, and I am not going to give a play by play; it's been done. My thoughts are simply this:

1) Traditional broadcast media is not of, for, or about the people. It was great that this case was brought to America's attention, but I constantly ask to what end? The St. Louis County police department have been COMPLETLY OBSCURE in their presentation of what occurred- from the first day, while they were still "gathering facts," to not releasing Wilson's name for over 4 days. Unfortunately, there are many people who truly believe police are practically infallible, or will sympathize with the fact they have a hard life defending us. In reporting this story, there were few facts that would convince anyone who hasn't heard the unarmed Black man shot by police story a thousand times. (Just the mere protection of the Officer frames him as a victim.) What is going on with the Ferguson community now that the cameras are gone? We don't really know. What is the status of the investigation? We don't really know. At the end of the day mainstream media reporting is a business. Since when did corporate interests lead to social justice? Next time, tell CNN to leave Don Lemon at home.

Protest in Staten Island for Eric Gardner, Michael Brown,
and others that lead into a televised pep rally.

2) Real G's move in silence. Ladies you know how you have an argument with a guy, tell him OK, you're right, and then numb chuck his ass later? Yeah, like that. Protests are awesome, but what happens when they don't listen? What happens when they don't hear us? Get quiet real quick, and then go to work. I have been inspired by the passion and work of the Dream Defenders that advocate for a change in LAWS. What would be the most effective form, or boycott that does not completely depress the community economically? How do you get these decision makers out of their comfort zone? Let's raise the money to do that. To be clear, I am not condoning any kind of violence. However, I am pointing out the fact that tanks vs. people does not sound like the best of strategies, which leads me to my last point and post title...

3) Institutionalized racism isn't really about race, it's about seperation.* When you're shaking down a tree, the most ripe (i.e., vulnerable) fruit will fall down first. There is a piece I read that delves into this better than I can articulate in a bullet point, but the fact is that it may be time to reframe the conversation of "no more Trayvon's or Michael Brown's." It is a narrative that even leaves out women of color. Now while we can see how we are intrinsically linked, the blonde suburban mom struggling to make her mortgage may not, but the truth is this, they'll send tanks down her street in time too.




*This point does not in any way deny the legitimacy or detract from the organization of Black people around issues that affect us Vis à Vis institutionalized racism. Simply pointing out the fact that in 2014 there is still a minority of Whites who empathize with Black pain and an even smaller group who dare speak up about it because they do not believe it is "their fight." This point often goes unaddressed, leaving us having the same conversations with ourselves.  
 

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