I want to help keep this conversation alive. This is the literal least I can do - I am not able to go to Ferguson and march and protest. I can, at least, remind myself and the people who read this that this is still happening. I can NOT forget.
I talk to the girl and my husband, and I talk to other people. I tend to be mindful that I sit in a position of privilege and generally should just keep my fucking mouth shut, despite the fact that I was raised Muslim and that brings a whole host of Other with it in America. But I don't fool myself. My lived experience is not the same as that of people of color. I am viewed by authority as white. WHITE. And I am wrapped in that privilege like a shield. I have been pulled over and ticketed, and never once was I concerned about my life.
Michael Brown was murdered - there is no other word for this - while I was packing for our college visit trip. I was heartsick at the disparity of spending several days in New England, driving up and down winding mountain roads and through picturesque towns, staying at a very nice bed and breakfast, looking at some very prestigious schools for my kid, while a family was planning a funeral for a boy slightly older than my child.
I frantically refreshed my Tumblr and Twitter feeds to keep up to date on what was happening. My frustration at being in an area of No Service [seriously, Vermont/Massachusetts? NO SERVICE AT ALL???] was not only for the lack of information my phone was giving on our route ["This can't be the way. We're at a fucking stoplight."], but also because I didn't know what was happening right that minute in Ferguson. And I needed to know. I kept a constant stream of updates with the girl and the husband, discussing teargas and rubber bullets and the arrest of protestors and journalists. And what could possibly have been going through the mind of a police officer who would shoot an unarmed man with his hands up six times and then leave his body in the street for four hours.
What can I do? I am a white woman, a middle class white woman, who
has been fostered in privilege. But I do what I can. I reblog things on Tumblr. I retweet
things on Twitter. I block people who are awful. We can disagree about
many things, but if you think any human being - spare me your rejoinders
of poor Michael Brown being a $6 shoplifter and belligerent toward an
officer and even hitting him, none of which has been determined -
deserves to be shot when they are putting their hands up and
surrendering, then we have nothing to say to each other and you are a
It is important to not let our propensity for bite-sized stories to take over. It is important that I keep reminding myself and others that this is going on. It is important that I talk to reasonable, rational, white people about why this matters to everyone. This doesn't just matter to the people of Ferguson and people of color, who the issue of police brutality and institutionalized racism directly affects.
It matters to white people precisely because being shot dead in the street by a police officer will never be an issue for us or our white children. And if you don't think that is the saddest thing in the world that your white privilege buys you, then I don't want to know you.