As I sit here recounting the painful news that flashed across my television screen just a few minutes ago, and now watching the after effects of a collected group of broken hearts, shattered spirits, and lost hope… I can’t help but worry for the future. One decision, one ruling that speaks volumes to those of us who already see and feel the inequalities placed upon us in our everyday lives.
And here I sit, watching my beautiful 1-year old baby sleeping… unaware of the history made today, but surely not unaffected by it. In her life, she will study this isolated incident, as well as the ones that have happened just like it that managed to make popular news. And what she will see is white authority figures killing black children, and some of them getting away with murder.
And one day, she will ask me why. Right now, she doesn’t even know her colors. Black, white, brown, yellow… they’re all beautiful and intriguing to her still. And one day, she will understand that they make up a disgusting hierarchy in our society. The beauty of color will be robbed from her, she will learn that as a darker-skinned member of society, she has to watch her back a little more closely. She’ll understand that she is not allowed to make the same mistakes as her white peers because more likely than not, her punishment will be more severe and harsh. And she will ask me why. She’ll ask me why white is better than black. And, as much as I pray and hope that day never comes, I am doubtful. I’m doubtful because of what I just saw happen in Ferguson in the case of Mike Brown. And because of what happened with Trayvon Martin, and Oscar Grant. And what will I say in response to her tough questions? What is a sufficient answer when I don’t even understand why. How will I provide her with a sense of security and not carry the burden of that worry if I tell her I have the same question she does, to let on that mommy doesn’t know and is just as scared as she is. That’s not a burden any child should have to carry. But so many of our Black children do carry that, because if they didn’t then they might have to find out the hard way. Even when they are aware and do carry that knowledge and burden with them, many still cannot escape the unfair treatment ranging from being watched closely and followed in department stores to being shot and killed while unarmed. Unfortunate doesn’t seem like a sufficient enough adjective to describe how we are treated in society. Disheartening. Unfair. Unjust. Tragic. Those are a little more accurate.
And at this moment, I am watching CNN news cover the rioting and protests that are happening in Ferguson, MO as a result of the announcement made that Officer Wilson will not be indicted. Let me be clear, I do NOT condone violence. I am very much a Martin Luther King, Jr. advocate and believe in peaceful protesting BUT I understand why my people are behaving this way. I feel the same pain they feel, the same betrayal, the same hurt. It is my personal belief that love and peace conquer all and have greater impact, but my heart still goes out to these angry protestors. They are feeling hopeless, betrayed, ignored… this ruling is a huge slap in the face which loudly proclaims that Black America is subpar. We are not worthy of better treatment, equality and justice. That is what this murder (and the ones prior) mean to us. And that is why there are angry protests and riots. Let me also be clear that I have followed this story and am well aware of the image portrayed as to who Mike Brown was, and I am not arguing that he is completely innocent and undeserving of discipline. I’m not trying to make him out to be some angelic, model child because based on the reports, he was not that. But, I do not believe he deserved a death sentence for his behavior. Maybe mentoring or an intervention (if needed), even some time in juvenile hall, those seem much more fitting for his bratty, rebellious teenage behavior. But death? No. No, I will never understand how that is justified.
And it breaks my heart, all of it. The murders, the families effected, the people hurting, and now the continued stereotyping and judgment that will be placed upon our people because of the protestors that are vandalizing and being violent. The world will ignore the heart of the matter -which is a group of people feeling ignored, invisible, and alone- and will only see this as stereotypical, trouble-making behavior common among Black people. And, that is heartbreaking.
I gave my daughter extra hugs and kisses today and told her over and over how much I love and adore her, and how much she MATTERS to me and to this world. And I will continue to pray for change, to pray for unity because whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all apart of ONE race – the human race. It’s is tragic that we have lost sight of that and, as a result, have to experience so much hurt and pain and violence. So I pray. I pray for Mike Brown and his family, I pray for everyone hurting, I pray for humanity, I pray for my precious daughter and children everywhere, and I pray for love to be what unites all of us.