I know we did something on Mike Brown already earlier this week, but with the way this situation in Ferguson has ballooned, I just can't think/write about anything else. Even if I did, it wouldn't feel appropriate.
I'm also too stunned/shocked to write something coherent. And I'm assuming many of you feel the same way.
But, if you have any stream of consciousness thoughts you want to share about what's happening in our country right now — regardless of how angry/confused/outraged/unfiltered they might seem — you have a space for them here. Please share.
I got assigned to write a story about Ferguson. I have been sitting at this computer for an hour. This page is blank as fuck.
Why do they hate us so much?
You know. I was going to attempt some musings, but I don't yet know what I can offer to even scratch the surface of what is happening and what is not happening and how I feel about it all. What I do know is that I can't fuck with anyone who says race is not the reason for this season. Can't and won't.
It's times like these that being a jokester makes me feel totally fucking frivolous.
Esp from my tiny little apartment in chicago, where kids are either shooting rival gang kids in broad daylight or swarming cars thirty deep armed with sticks and pipes. It's surreal.
Samantha, I think we're all trying to figure out what to do and how to respond to this. I'm a writer, so I'm supposed to write. Not attempting to write something would feel like I wasn't doing my part. But writing doesn't seem like enough. And I have No. Fucking. Clue. what to write about.
Right now, the most present thought in my mind is how quickly things turned from whatever Ferguson was Saturday to what's going on today. It shows how tenuous the concepts of freedom and democracy are. Well, how tenuous they are for us. This is Ferguson, Missouri, but this could happen in Pittsburgh and DC and Chicago and Portland and wherever you're reading this from. That, to me, is what separates this from Katrina, and what makes this scarier. A cocktail of N.O.'s unique topography, a historically destructive storm, and an incompetent and corrupt government allowed Katrina to happen. Ferguson is happening because of America.
I feel helpless. And hopeless. What can *I* reasonably do?? I'm too stunned to think clearly. I can't concentrate at work because I'm heartbroken, angry and emotionally drained. I look down my Facebook timeline and the people who address Michael Brown/Ferguson, MO (and like incidents) are Black. None of my White friends, family or acquaintances have bothered to publicly acknowledge the theft of Black life. Black life is so worthless that it doesn't even deserved to be paid attention. It's even more crushing and demeaning to hear other Black folks advocate that WE can stop bullets with education, suits, and self-respect. We are asked not to lash out in anger and to be level-headed, regardless of assaults our community is constantly absorbing. We are chastised for simply existing and condemned for reacting. We are considered rabid animals at worst and irresponsible fools at best. I'm tired of my people being slaughtered. Period. The victim blaming, the respectability politics, the lack of accountability by the guilty adds insult to injury. I'm sick of it all.
This is what happens when you are not seen as a human. I saw a video of a cop saying "bring it you fucking animals. Bring it." And one reporter said one yelled at him "I'm dealing with 4000 animals in there and you're giving me attitude?"
People in Gaza were actually tweeting pointers on how to deal with tear gas. Unreal.
Clearly if there was no social media, no cameras capturing them, there is no doubt in my mind that half of those people would be shot and the other half in jail. It is enraging, and I seriously cannot believe this is happening in 2014. Constitution be damned I guess. Basic civil rights be damned.
It's absolutely enraging.
It's crazy you asked because I was having a similar conversation with my mother earlier today about how I feel as though I've been on a war-path tweeting, RT'ing, sharing, engaging and even arguing with people who are missing the point the last 4 days. I'm drained, worn the fuck out and I feel like I'm not doing enough. While I'm discussing this with her, she receives a text from my grandmother in TX asking her what she's up to. My mother replies that she's talking to me about Mike Brown and my grandmother is unaware of who that is.
Now my grandmother watches the news like every other Mee-maw, and she jumps on Facebook every now and then, so for her to have not heard about it was even more frustrating for me. I was telling my mother about the incident with Erykah Badu and she called my attention to the fact that I feel immersed in this information because I was exposed to it and my social circles share similar interests. Because there's no major media coverage appropriately addressing the issue people are carrying on in THEIR social circles with business as usual. And THAT, for me, outside of the ACTUAL issue, is the biggest problem. The fact that there are people either completely unaware, or unaware of the gravity of the situation infuriates me, and had it not been for social media I'm sure this would have not made it past 3rd shift twitter Saturday evening.
Yea, Gem. The lack of engagement from most of the hundreds of White friends on my Facebook feed is disheartening. I really think some — not all, but some — don't consider Black Americans to be full Americans. To them this is an issue affecting Black people, not one affecting Americans.
I have a White homegirl that's totally engaged in the fields of social justice. I'm hoping that the stuff she's posting is waking somebody up. Shoutout to Sara.
Meanwhile, I just emoted my whole way through a post that I was asked to do, and I started crying.
I just don't understand why they hate us so much. I recognize it as reality, but I've never seen it at this level. At least with Katrina I could at least say "Well, White folks can't help that it rained," and try to mitigate some of the bullshit that happened. Try to make it a little less of what it is.
I can't lie my way around this.
1. What's so hurtful about this is beyond us calling us animals. It's that they treat animals better than us. It's like we're… inanimate objects.
2. Since we're called the "free world", it is surreal to think of this happening in America. And yet, if we really being real with ourselves, this is actually TEXTBOOK (well, not the ones spoon-fed to our children in schools, but that's another issue) American. That hits me in the gut.
3. I write movies. And yet I'm sitting here frozen at the fact that it feels like I'm watching a movie… and I can't push pause on Netflix. I'm not digging into a popcorn bag at the theater. This is real life. And it's playing across my screen like… it's okay.
4. I'mma also need people in power to call this what the fuck it is: domestic terrorism.
That's all I can get out right now… sigh.
The revolution will not be televised. That line has never resonated with me the depths of which it has the past few days.
Something is irrevocably broken here. I could say a hell of a lot about that, and how the rumble of rage in my belly is something I've come to think of as a birthright. And how much of a travesty it is that another Black child being gunned down in the street isn't an anomalous narrative. And how surreal it is to see how fast a city in America can become a warzone. And how the system of control is becoming unstable with righteous civil unrest. But I'm fuckin tired.
The revolution will not be televised but it's being livestreamed and tweeted and vined and instagramed this very instant. And no murder, arrest, obstruction of justice, character assassination, manipulation or "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" tactics are going to drown it out at this point.
And yo. Real talk? By any means necessary will I protect me and mine.
I think the question we're all holding onto is, is this the tipping point?
If it's not, what does that say about us?
How much more evidence do we need? How bad do things have to get? What will it take to get us to all collectively pay attention and do something sustainable, actionable, and transformative? Zora Neale Hurston wrote, "If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it."
This has gone beyond Mike Brown at this point. This is turning into a fight for the living.
Word, Maya. Complacency can't follow this; I'll be disgusted. No lull back to sleep. No lil handouts to appease us should satiate.
I have a daughter and a son; I knew the second I looked into their eyes that I'd never be satisfied raising them in a world where their humanity is constantly undermined at best and there's a prevalent risk they'll be harassed, arrested, or killed every time they step out the house at worst. I know no other way to mother than to teach my kids that they are of utmost value, that they matter. We are not a powerless people; we're a resilient people. We should ALL be activists. We don't need leaders to tell us what to be angry about anymore—we're all capable of leading. We all have a platform, thanks to these here innernets. On behalf of all that have been killed and all we need to protect, this has to be the damn change. We have the means to mobilize and communicate limitlessly. I don't wanna hear no shit about how we just like being momentarily outraged and all we do is complain but take no real action. Anybody who believes that can stay behind. We need to walk into the future NOW. And I feel like them moves have already began, honestly. The conversations I've been immersed with as of late, the things I've read, the mobilization I've been witness, to…this is a shift. It started with Trayvon.
I'm from Florissant, Mo, which borders Ferguson. I have friends and family who have lived there. And I've been at a loss. I'm torn between flying home and covering the protests, flying home and joining the protests or asking my job to fly me home with several other folks here at Advancement Project (I work for a civil rights organization) to help organize. I just know that I physically want to DO something. And I have the tools to do something, but I'm here in D.C. at work wondering why I'm here. Tweeting about it, while it's important because that's how people are getting their news, feels shallow and so does writing some weepy blog post. But for the first time since never, I actually have skills, reporting, writing and organizing, that would actually help, but I'm in D.C. Which, I guess, works great for my parents, who would probably flip out if I went down there anyway and are grateful I am trapped behind a desk up back East.
Yeah, that unrelentless urge to do SOMETHING, that's that rumble I was talking about. That we all so desperately want to do something, that that fire has been lit, is why I know this is a tipping point. Complacency can't survive in that environment.
My co-worker came into my office yesterday and asked me why I seemed so pissed. I pointed at my computer screen. On it was a story about Ferguson. The more I read the more I get pissed. The available details should be enough to piss off anybody; White, brown, Black, purple, etc. But it doesn't seem to be enough. That's what frustrates me most about it. Police feeling the authority to act in such fashion should alarm every citizen of this nation. And to be fair, message boards and comment sections are full of people of all stripe who are extremely troubled. But White people don't really worry that this will ever be their reality. It's like watching an episode of Ripley's Believe It Or Not for them. The media coverage would seem to indicate as much. Like they see it, but they just don't get it.
Black boy gets shot. He must have done something, right? He had to because why else would the police officer respond in such fashion? But I wonder at what point people wake the fuck up and realize that there can't be THAT many coincidences. It seems like we catch a weekly story now about some young Black man's encounter with police that ends up with a death. And forgive me for my naivety, but it seems like most, if not all, Black men have a precarious relationship with police. I find it hard to believe that every last one of us is truly challenging the police like this. We all want those interactions to be as short and uneventful as possible, but somehow we're all out here provoking authorities? Don't get me wrong, I've definitely popped off at a cop before and have seen one of my friends arrested because he wouldn't shut up. Talk is talk though. Never does talk justify shooting.
After four days, the police chief is releasing that the cop involved was injured. How the fuck does that take four days to release? But I guess when you control the output of information you frame the narrative in order to protect your own. Shit, members of the media are being arrested for doing their jobs and the fucking police chief has no clue whats happening on the ground.
I've also struggled with what to write or say. I spent the entire day yesterday when I wasn't pissed and in my feelings attempting to figure out what to say or write and I had nothing. Zero. My co-worker asked me what I do when I'm pissed and I told her I like to write in the moment because at least I'm honest with my feelings and yet I had nothing.
You know, hope is an amazing thing. Even amongst this bullshit, I hope that it will be a watershed moment where the people who can realize that they should make necessary changes. This could happen to anybody, anywhere (though history tells us its more likely to happen to a Black man). In the Greg Howard piece, he made mention of the eventual realization that if police feel like they're in a warzone; that there are actual enemies. American citizens are treated as actual enemies. That's a dangerous concept. And yet a reality for so many.
It's hard not to be pissed when people keep pissing you off. Substitute "America" for "people" and you've got the Black experience.
In regards to the writer thing and not fully knowing what to write, I said just this morning on Twitter/FB: "that moment when you have so much to say, but don't know what to say."
That's how I feel (and it's what rage can feel like) and I'm sure others can relate.
I feel numb. I feel hopeless. I feel frustrated that the same coworkers who have a million inaccurate words to say to me about Ebola in America have been mum to the loss of another Americans life. I feel disgusted by all the White college mates I know from the St Louis area who pretend to not have eyes and ears. I feel baffled by the people, both White and Black, who have chosen to use this time as a referendum on blackness and black behaviors.
They say that the human brain is wired to search for logic, even when there is none. Maybe just maybe that's why so many people are just refusing to see what we all do - that being a Black person in America is living a life where more people than not view you as a lesser than, at the very least subconsciously. To those people, you succeed despite your Blackness , and you fail because of it. I wouldn't trade being Black for all the rice and beans this side of the Atlantic — but I damn sure am tired of feeling like I should apologize for being mad.
I've come to a point where I realized that the people who don't see it just don't care to see it. When I heard about the two White journalists arrested yesterday I had two immediate thoughts…1) "Some White folks got got? We're gonna get that national coverage now for sure." 2) "I've gotta log off social media before people start trying to redirect this as a thing that transcends race." I don't know which one is sadder.
I've found myself reading Langston Hughes' "A Dream Deferred" a few times over the past week. Those last three lines…
"maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?"
I have a feeling we'll find out soon enough.