Ugh, the news is depressing. But man, public responses to the news are even more depressing. Have people always been this negative and uncompassionate? Have Americans always been so damn sure they are right about everything they are unwilling to even consider all sides of an issue? All across my Facebook timeline I see people criticizing the people in Ferguson, MO because of the protesting and rioting there. These issues aren’t just black and white (no pun intended). Racial injustice does still exist in America. Yeah, I know, this is where my super conservative friends will balk about how things are so much better than they used to be for minorities and how Michael Brown should have stopped when he was told to and how he shouldn’t have resisted arrest (if, in fact, he did resist arrest). But what people who are railing against the protestors aren’t seeing is that the anger isn’t just about Michael Brown’s situation. It’s anger and frustration from decades of racial injustice. It’s a fact that Blacks go to jail at a higher rate than whites. It’s a fact that Blacks get harsher sentences in jail. It’s a fact Blacks live in poverty at a higher rate than whites. It’s a fact that more Blacks are shot by cops than whites. It’s a fact that Driving While Black is a real phenomenon.
Now, I’m not saying rioting and looting are acceptable. Absolutely not. You can’t fight injustice while committing injustice. But not all those protestors are rioting and looting. But you know how sometimes you get to the absolute end of your rope and just explode? That’s what the rioting is about. It’s about being pushed to the sidelines once to often. It’s about being demeaned one to many times. It’s about fearing for your life because you might be reaching for your wallet and get shot because someone thinks you have a gun. It’s about being told consistently that you live in the land of the free and the home of the brave but you still don’t have the same educational and economic opportunities that Whites have. I mean, crap. I know people who flip their lids and get irate because A&E sanctions a beloved Duck Dynasty character. Or they can’t openly carry a weapon in Target. Or someone criticizes their favorite chicken sandwich place or hobby shop. Or people disagree with them about a political point. There are people getting pissed for a lot less important things that the disenfranchisement of an entire race of people.
Instead of criticizing the people of Ferguson and scratching our heads at the idea of being angry about the shooting of an unarmed man we should be standing next to them saying, “Let the light of truth shine and the scales of justice prevail.” We should try to understand the bigger picture of what it means to be Black in this country as best as we can. But the truth is, we’re not Black. I’ll never fully understand these issues. But I will try. I will keep my mind open. And I will speak out when I can. I don’t want to debate anyone. I really, really don’t. I just want people to expand their thinking.