Michael Brown was killed recently in Ferguson, MO by a white police officer. Multiple people are claiming they witnessed the victim with his hands in the air when he was shot multiple times. Michael Brown was unarmed.
After local police refused to release the officer’s name, they managed to release video of Michael Brown robbing a store. The shooting and robbery video were quickly declared unrelated and labeled as a shameful character assassination attempt on behalf of the police department.
Local, state, and federal involvement have been a part of this increasingly chaotic scene since day one. And with a recent curfew put in place for the residents of Ferguson, we may be witnessing only the beginning of a community in upheaval – a community in pain.
This type of story is not new.
The abuse of and dehumanization of minorities, especially black people, in this country at the hands of our police community is as old as at the country itself. We have all heard the notion that in an Obama era, America is beyond its ugly racial history. But these sentiments are usually held by the removed privileged. The same ones who’s safety can be all but guaranteed by simply raising empty hands above their heads.
As a nation, we are still desensitized to the brutal treatment of American citizens by their own police and military. Much like Trayvon Martin, this killing is highlighting the American caste system behind the veil of American freedom. From media manipulation, to police withholding of information, to the militarization of our police force, to unlawful crowd control tactics, to journalist mistreatment and false arrests, to curfew setting, tear gas usage, and more, this is simply the most recent example.
I know people in Ferguson. I know parents in Ferguson. I know grandparents in Ferguson. I know fellow fathers in Ferguson raising their young black sons there.
The conversations we unfortunately must have with our sons and daughters, because incidents like Michael Brown’s are still way too common. Even these written words seem futile. These words feel powerless in the face of such consistent and senseless loss of life.
Every single image taken and every single hashtagged tweet are part of a climate of irreversible frustration. If there’s anything we must not stop doing, it is speaking up.
The depth of despair about our country’s situation feels like it should go even deeper. And that’s the issue – the pain isn’t deep enough. I think we hide much of it. I think that even in the black community, we don’t value our own lives as much as we should. I think we numb ourselves to the pain less we feel the full crushing weight of helplessness.
This weight is slowly being lifted. In the age of the Internet and social media, we all have a voice. Many of voices are speaking up about situations like Michael Brown’s. A unified voice is a powerful voice.
Ground up change has only come in the form of a united voice. In spite of our rage, guilt, sadness, hope, reflection, and sense of futility, we must continue to speak up. Every single voice counts. Every single image taken and every single hashtagged tweet are part of a climate of irreversible frustration. If there’s anything we must not stop doing, it is speaking up. It’s the only avenue of true change. A unified voice will be heard.
It is not okay to kill us.