“Unfortunately, people nowadays, regardless of skin color or economics, just want to talk…it’s easier that way” – Claborne Staten
Last Saturday, in the St. Louis suburban city of Ferguson, a young man was shot and killed by a police officer. The young man—an 18-year-old by the name of Michael Brown—was black and the officer is white. Considering that alone, the inevitable happened: claims that this incident was racially-charged. Reminiscent of Rodney King in 1991, Oscar Grant in 2009, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis in 2012, and Eric Garner just last month, all of the usual reactions when these types of incidents occur happened: more protests from people of all walks in the African-American community…more claims of nationwide prejudice and oppression concerning people of color…more “White People Don’t Care About Black Folks” posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram…more Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the rest of the “civil rights activists” that only come out to play when perceived hatred against blacks occur…more high-profile entertainers and public personalities littering TVs, radios, blogs, and newspapers with their “us against them” mindset…more Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell…more NAACP statements…more questionable witness testimonies. It’s the same thing every time. And the sad thing about it is that we—as in African-Americans—think that this helps…that this is the answer…that this will all of a sudden move the heavens and earth in our favor and everything will be all good like that “Hakuna Matata” track from The Lion King. Honestly, only a few concessions here and there is all that has ever been accomplished from all of effort…mostly to avoid mass chaos and anarchy. The truth of the matter—at least the way I see it—is that the change we’re clamoring for will only happen when our mindsets adjust and we become more educated on the effects of these and similar instances NOT by marching in the streets or listening to recycled Al Sharpton speeches.
Concerning the events in Ferguson, Missouri over the last few days, it’s incredibly sad in my book. Look, I understand people are upset that a kid got shot and killed but the lawlessness and unruly behavior that has engulfed that community is troubling to me. Since the shooting, there has been a lot of vandalism of city property as well as personal property of private citizens. There’s been frequent and often violent clashes with law enforcement not to mention a general disregard for the law. How is vandalizing the property of your own city and its residents honoring the life of the fallen young man? Where is the #Justice4MikeBrown in that? How are they adhering to the “we gotta look out for each other because no one else will” mantra that’s being put out there if they are looting from the businesses of their very own neighbors? How do they expect to earn the respect from law enforcement—and the legal system, at large—if they are out there taunting them at every opportunity? What’s being accomplished through all of this? If you ask me, it’s just another excuse—unfortunately, in a long line of them—to be menaces to society. I know that’s a strong term to use in regards to the actions of my own people but that’s just how I feel about it. We all have to be better.
At this point, the kid is gone. None of what’s happening is going to bring him back. So what’s next? Well, we have to move on…all of us. Not moving on as in forgetting—I don’t think we should ever forget—but moving on as in progressing towards change in a proactive way. Let’s start by voting…not to get more blacks in office but more people whose views align with our views. Let’s start by giving a damn about ALL violence that occurs—like the constant violence in Chicago that has taken the lives of many young, black people and adversely affected those of many more—NOT just the violence committed on blacks by non-blacks. Let’s start by refraining from our consistent cheering and fandom of guys like Omar Little, Stringer Bell, and Bodie Broadus from The Wire and how they one-up the law…seeds of which are present in every predominantly black neighborhood today. Let’s start by taking a peek at the race relations and how widespread prejudice was addressed in other countries. Let’s start by removing race as a block or option on official documentation. Is being recognized by our nationality as American not enough? Let’s start by committing serious resources—money, time, materials—towards properly educating one another on the differences between the races in America…from both a historical perspective and a more, modern take. That’s how things will change…at least how I see it. A conviction here, a conviction there won’t do too much overall. Neither will the media attention and the settlements.