I write this knowing full well that in 6 months (more like 6
days weeks) most Americans (& the world) will have moved on from what happened at Ferguson. I, we, however, cannot.
I will not.
My reaction to the Ferguson decision, the decision to not even indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, started with a lack of surprise and quickly moved to confusion, sadness, and then anger. I yelled, I cried, I comforted friends and allowed them to comfort me. Being the Political Science major I am, I wanted to learn everything about how such a decision could be reached so I read the documents released knowing full well that no one, except Mike Brown (RIP) and Darren Wilson will ever know what truly occurred. I read those files because I needed to do something, feel something other than the jumble of emotions I’ve been experiencing for almost 24 hours.
I am furious, as I’m sure many of you are, frustrated about the lack of justice for Mike Brown and the many black youth who have been gunned down by those who are supposed to serve and protect. I am sad to the point of heartbreak about the situation occurring in Ferguson and around our nation. This was the moment my insider/outsider status became cemented, my double consciousness clearer than ever. Like Daily Show Correspondent Jessica Williams tweeted, “For me the hardest part about becoming an adult is realizing that the world is not a fair place. It has been the hardest lesson.”
Yesterday, I learned that lesson.
People often say that when you’re little your parents tell you that the world is fair, that everyone has the same chance at “success,” that all will be well. My parents never told me any of those lies. They didn’t bother. Some of my earliest memories are of me at street corners protesting corrupt gas stations and other corporations that were polluting my black community. I went to Marcus Garvey Day parades, I attended MXGM meetings, and so I should’ve known the world is not a fair place.
I should have accepted that.
I, however, did not. I didn’t understand why we spent so much time fighting for injustices that we didn’t experience ourselves. I didn’t understand why my father spent hours every week working at his community center only to be met with resistance from a community that obviously didn’t want his help. I wanted to read Tamora Pierce not Booker T. Washington and I most certainly did not want to spend my Sundays with a bunch of “liberated” black folk when I’d rather be in my room (reading, of course). It was a waste of my time.
Needless to say everything changed (no, not when the fire nation attacked) when I went to Wellesley College and joined Ethos, our black student organization. No, black people/culture is not a monolith but I found comfort, strength even from being around such accomplished and passionate black students. I’m sure there are many of you who can attest to this moment–the moment you felt comfortable with and supported in your blackness.
Fast forward to the present and I have had the honor of serving as the president of said black student org as well as holding a few officer positions. I say all of this to show that myself, like many of you, took a long time to get where I am today. Too often are people quick to judge our generation. They say we’re lazy, we don’t vote, in other words we don’t value the rights our ancestors fought for us to have. And yet, we seem to have proven them wrong.
As I’m sure we can all agree, we cannot change the past. Mike Brown is dead. He was tragically gunned down by Darren Wilson, and that is an understatement. My prayers are with his family. I know many of us have or will go to protests as we need a forum to express our anger, to show the world we refuse to be content, to do something, anything about the injustices we face.
In light of this, it is beyond important that we educate ourselves and our communities. Not just in terms of reading a bunch of dead white men (most of them, after all, were racist and sexist) but reading about OUR forefathers (and mothers, etc.) and training ourselves in self defense.
This is about more than personal responsibility.
I, like you, am more than aware of institutionalized racism and rampant corruption our generation, much like our parents and grandparents, faces. We, unfortunately, cannot change the racist man. He will likely always be racist.
This is about liberating ourselves.
Freeing our minds so that we may be ready for the current and upcoming storm. I’m not saying the system won’t change. What I’m saying is we don’t have the time or energy to wait for it to change. We can only change ourselves and so that is what we must do. Empower ourselves. Give other black youth the tools (and weapons–both literally and figuratively) to empower themselves. Separate ourselves from this capitalistic society that was not meant for us that did not originally and does not now value our black bodies. I’m not saying we should live in a black commune, of course if that’s what you wish so be it, but we do need to support our writers, our inventors, our businesses, and bring power back into our communities. Let us find ways to inspire change where we live.
These cops weren’t created for our protection. Hopefully…unfortunately, we finally realize that.
My sisters, my brothers, my siblings let us show this world that we shall not be quieted, that we have power, that black lives matter.
It’s only going to get worse from here on out.
In solidarity, power, and peace.