I see it every where; hashtags telling me how to react to another shooting of an unarmed black man by an armed white guy-a cop–and then a Grand Jury yet again clearing the policeman of any wrong doing. This has been going on for decades. Remember Rodney King?
Here’s how I won’t react: I won’t “pray for the family.” People offer prayers, dust off their knees and proclaim they’ve done all they can. Really? That’s what we’ve got-a couple minutes of prayer for institutional racism that goes so deep white people begin justifying deaths before the body hits the pavement? It’s not enough.
It’s also not enough for me to talk about peace. Peace is what you can afford when you or your son or your brother or father are not having to worry about being gunned down at a traffic stop when a tail light is out.
ProPublica recently did an in-depth analysis and found that black kids between ages 15-19 are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by cops than white kids of the same age. If you are a black teenage boy, you have a 21 times higher risk of being shot by police than a white teenage boy. As a mother of a young man I cannot imagine how this statistic would move me if my won were black. I would struggle to let him leave the house.
Also, in 2010, federal prosecutors took 162,000 cases to a grand jury. You know how many DIDN’T go to trial? Six.
How can there be peace in the face of those numbers? Peace is what you talk about when you cannot quite figure out how to be pissed off. I’m not the first to notice there is no way to peace, peace is the way. So if it’s actually peace we want then we have to stop segregating by economics, we have to provide more than talk about “justice”, whatever that really is, and stop making it okay to kill unarmed black men and then proclaim that someone, a cop, a so called “neighborhood watch” person feared for their lives at the sight of a young black guy so it’s okay to shoot him over and over and leave him to die in the streets in a t shirt with empty hands.
Here’s what else I won’t do: I will not now nor ever contribute to your campaign, org, or cause if you use the name of Michael Brown to fill your bank account. He should not be for sale. He was a person, an actual breathing, loving, crying and dying young man covered in his blood, scared beyond reason-feeling his life leaving his body in a way I doubt he could understand. If you can understand you are part of the problem. He cannot be a marketing tag line.
I also will not read your posts with clips from the so called “Real Grand Jury” documents that have the long and strangely descriptive scene the policemen supposedly told jurors as proof that the jury did a great job and that Brown needed to be shot and killed. The alleged full testimony is a rambling monologue of impossibility that describes a chaotic scene where the officer clearly did not know what was going on. He has guns that don’t fire over and over, he has Brown being shot at point blank range and then Brown charging him. Something is off. But I won’t be reading the conservative bloggers who post half stories with alleged “full testimony” which does not include the numerous eye witnesses who say they saw Brown with his arms up bleeding before being shot again and yet again. Nor will I watch Fox “news” talking about a beer bottle in the street and disparaging the wounded while there are protests in 37 states of thousands of people-of all races but mostly black.
This deserved to go to trial. People go to trial every day on far less evidence. One discrepancy should be enough to allow a trial, there are literally dozens in the transcripts.
I will also not hear the stories that try to make Michael Brown a bad person. It’s as if to say, ‘well I don’t know if the cop did the exact right thing but Brown was a thug so it’s okay either way.’ Brown had marijuana in his system, a substance now legal in many states. That makes him no more of a thug than the granny on her deck lighting up as she checks out her view of the Space Needle. It’s not about anything beyond shooting an unarmed person in the midst of what is admittedly chaos. The fact that it happens almost exclusively to young black men is the point. It can’t be talked over and justified. We’re beyond that now. I have no doubt the cop on scene does not really know what happened. I have no doubt he was afraid and so was Brown. But why was the cop so afraid? I see many situations where white guys are belligerent, drunk and threatening yet it doesn’t end this way. Could it be that white cops are afraid of young black men? Could it be that white people are so unaware of how different their day to day lives are from the lives of their black friends and co-workers that they can’t understand or even believe that walking while black can get you killed?
The evidence is there, why the denial?
I don’t know how to get #justiceforMichaelBrown but having cases like this go to trial, having the system stacked fairly, even admitting the truth of what happens would be a start. Right now there is no justice for Michael Brown. There is no life for him. No amount of talking brings him back. Death is final for Michael Brown and the recent half dozen other equally tragic and similar deaths. If we want justice let’s try getting it for the little boy not yet born who we don’t want to light a candle for in twenty years because we failed. I know Michael Brown is not just another hashtag or slogan. I know somehow this time it’s got to be different than that. It just has to.