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So Sad, So Damn Sad: Quick Thoughts on Mike Brown/Ferguson Situation


Over the past week, the images, video clips, tweets, and overall concern coming out of Ferguson, Missouri have been troubling. Until last Saturday, I have never heard of Ferguson, MO. But upon learning the immediate details of the horrific tragedy that was the killing of Mike Brown, I had a feeling Ferguson, Missouri was about to become household knowledge soon. 

I laid in my bed last Sunday night with my tablet on hand doing the usual - a few readings of current events, social media, and other writings, articles, and pieces I hadn't gotten to during the week. I never got around to any of it as I found myself attached to social media and "#MikeBrown", swiping down on the screen constantly to refresh my feeds in hopes of getting updates on what was occurring. I was and am enthralled with it all.  But really, I was searching for answers. How can this be? 

As we come upon one week, this story still seems perplexing, troubling, and baffling. It is one wrapped up in so many social issues that plague our country, so many demographic failures, so much injustice, so much ignorance, and so much raw emotion, that right and wrong right now might be clear, but the deeper, rooted underlying issues in our nation are very, very, very, very glaringly apparent.

Without attempting to unravel it all, because I can't, I won't, and attempting to do so requires a novel, the following are somethings I've pulled away so far regarding this mess. 

Late Just As Bad As Never

I touched on it briefly above, but our nation's media and their response to this story was downright embarrassing. Chalk it up to the mere frequency (and possible desensitizing) of these situations happening  too frequently (which is the point of it all) or whatever else it may have been, but if it were not for social media (mainly Twitter), I shutter to wonder, would we have ever known? 

When the riots began on Sunday night, I attempted to find news stories online. I even went as far as turning the television on and flipping to MSNBC, CNN, FOX News and others to find nothing. The Huffington Post seemed to have been the only outlet that was updating, but Robin Williams' death remained the primary concern. Our nation's media seemed more interested in having respondents dispatched outside Williams' home rather than covering this story.

Such a bad job. It was quite embarrassing and just fuels some of the narrative that some are pushing in this situation. 

BET, You Suck! 

And while I'm at it, let me just have a few words atop my soap box by saying, as a situation pertaining to "Black America", BET is the biggest joke of a channel or institution ever created. As a black adult, I've always felt the channel provides nothing of importance, substance, or progression for the black community (really it sets the community back). When this channel had a chance to provide an outlet for this story over the past week, to discuss these issues, or even shed light on it, it was no where to be found. As I write this, the channel is showing re-runs of a "The Game". Great job, BET. 

Ugh. Moving on...

Evil People Do Evil Things

What is the point of rioting and looting? Seriously? Seeing the photos of folks breaking into stores and destroying them on Sunday night fueled me with such rage. What is the point of doing this? You get back at injustice by taking and destroying your own neighborhood and community? You protest injustice by committing crimes? 

Then it dawned on me that unfortunately, some people want a reason to do bad things. And for some, this was their ticket to go looting and stealing, and rioting, and everything else that does nothing for progression of human kind in this situation. Those are the folks, especially black people (shame on them!) who were doing this, that instantaneously give ammo to those who have such strong ill-conceived stereotypes of minorities, or in this case, not valuing their lives.

While the there were plenty of violence and rioting, there were also many peaceful demonstrations that have gone un-publicized. I guess peaceful and law-abiding protests are just not sexy enough for the night time news.

Terrible Leadership and Tactics

Whose idea was it to calm rioting and unrest by bringing in the SWAT team to do so? Seriously? You want to calm a violent crowd by bringing in the SWAT team and have them point military weapons in their faces. A SWAT team surging a suburban neighborhood will ease tensions? Really? 

And let's call it what it is, a misplay on the strength and power of communication - empowered white males with guns pointed at a community of emotional blacks who are fired up over the wrongful death of a teenage black boy from the gun of a white police officer. Yup, great plan. Quite shocking it didn't work and rather escalated tensions that mirrored the images we see over in the middle east.

Who the heck thought of this stuff? 

Spoiling The Bunch

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, it only takes one bad apple, and that's what good cops are facing now in our nation. The cops who very much risk their lives everyday to protect us, serve us, and do so with honor, respect, and dignity. 

I'm not ignorant or naive enough to think that all cops are terrible human beings who use their power for their benefits, and are filled with expression of high racist levels. I know good cops. I grew up with good friends who are now NYPD officers. It's a tough job. A dangerous one. And in many cases, a thankless one. 

Unfortunately, this case does nothing to help the already-dangling-by-a-thread relationship minorities have with police. Good cops are no longer a thing. Cops are cops. And right now, cops are all terrible with one large brushed stroke. It's unfortunate. 

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown

I loved that this became a topic of discussion from this unfortunate situation as we all have various photos of ourselves that can paint us in any which way to fit the narrative of whoever is in control. We saw this come to life with the Trayvon Martin case, and really come to a forefront in this situation. Many are grabbing different photos of Mike Brown, whether it was of him at the arcade, of him graduating, or him throwing up signs and different hand gestures in photos, and judging his character based on each photo. 

I urge you to take a look at the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown discussion on Twitter. Very thought provoking on how we view the lives of those in these cases/situations from different pictures, and how the media uses them to sway the general public. 

Misdirection of Purpose

Whenever situations like this come around, we always get the typical names that want to get their faces attached - namely Al Sharpton. I'm not a huge fan of Sharpton as I feel he only picks these white-on-black cases as if it's 1950, and portrays them as the only injustice or civil rights agenda on the table. As if this is the only issue facing Black America. I will always give him credit for what he did for the Jena 6 in Louisiana years ago. But guys like Sharpton attempt to turn these situations into promoting their agenda and their brand. 

I always say it to friends and family when Sharpton and other "activists", social issues, and various politics are discussed - Where is Sharpton on tackling the insane crime issue in Chicago where black lives are taken by other blacks at an alarming rate? Where is his usual aggressiveness on that issue? Or how about when whites or other races are victims of injustice? Because it does happen. Dr. King would have never - NEVER - fought for justice for some of the people. He understood everyone's destiny was wrapped together. 

I just hope we don't all lose focus. This isn't about Sharpton. Or President Obama's policies. Or Rush Limbaugh. Or Bill O'Reilly. Or democrats and republicans. Or liberals and conservatives. Or CNN and FOX News. This is about the death of another young black male by police officers. It's about a family who lost their son. Let's not get fooled. 

Which brings me to...

Tunnel Vision of Justice

While this is primarily an issue regarding blacks, this still involves all of us. Everyone. This is a civil rights issue, and all of us, no matter what race, color, or creed, should be invested in making sure such social injustices never occur again.

I heard one talking head on CNN say that "Whites need to stay in the background in this situation". Um, WHAT?! Everyone has a voice, and it must be used and heard. Again, this is not just a black problem, this is an American problem. 

There is a real opportunity to learn from this situation, and really, truly, make progress out of it for all people. This needs to become a movement and not a moment. If forward progression isn't the cause of all of this, then what's the point of it all? 

Real Action

One of the statistics often brought up on television is that of Ferguson not having many blacks on the police force or in government representation. Sometimes, it's not the outcome, but rather the interest that should be questioned. 

I'm hoping that the black community looks at this situation and begins taking progressive action in getting onto police forces and running for office. Or at the very least, makes changes within the community for improvement. Protests, rioting, and crying victim to injustices will only do so much. Real change and true reaction requires just that - real action. 

Fear of the Truth

OK, here is something you may not hear elsewhere, or even, understand, or maybe you will. There is a part of me that fears that the evidence that we've seen so far - mostly one sided and terrifying - is all there is. To think that a police officer really exited his car, shot a kid in his back, watched him turn around with his arms in the air and look at him in submission, and then fired another few rounds into his body is disturbing. Because folks, so far, all of the logical evidence, along with the witnesses testimonies, points to this being what actually happened. 

Things obviously can change after this post goes live. We haven't heard anything (ANY-THING!) from the Ferguson Police Department. And if you add that with their arrest of innocent journalists, and their awful handling of calming such a violent uprise, things don't look very well or believable for them. Silence has never been so damning. 

If the current story of what happened is deemed true, I can't even imagine the levels of racism and coldness that still exists in hearts through this nation. 

What Would MLK Do? 

I often ask myself this very question whenever these situations grab our attention - what would the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. do in this very situation, in this very time? For me at least, it's always interesting to think about. 

---

Finally, as this situation is debated, discussed, updated, and evolves, no matter what occurs, just like I did with Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and others, I always - ALWAYS - feel the most for the parents of the deceased child. Let's not forget the parents of Mike Brown, who were just mere weeks away from sending their kid off to college. Now they prepare for his funeral. 

So sad. So damn sad. All of it. All of us. As a nation. And as a people. 

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