A burning building in Ferguson. Image Courtesy of Jim Young Reuters
Once again justice wasn’t served. Was I surprised? Nope, because I knew what the decision would be. We all knew. Calling in the national guard, declaring a state of emergency were huge indicators that local officials knew something we didn’t. But we all knew, even before the prosecutor matter-of-factly announced no indictment for Darren Wilson, there would be no justice for Mike Brown, so therefore no peace for Ferguson, MO.
And in the heat of that moment, when digesting that bitter pill of fact, one of Mike’s relatives yells, “burn this bitch to the ground,” into the crowd of protestors, how is that not understandable? I’m not slapping my seal of approval on violence and destruction, but I get why it’s there. It’s a quick fix. An easy way to drain the rage burning out of people’s pores and into local storefronts and car dealerships faster than the actual flames.
But, who are we (as in Black folk) really destroying?
Burning the local Family Dollar that benefits your community is like shooting your own self in the foot, or to put a poetic spin on it: it’s like you drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die. It’s not effective. It wasn’t in L.A. and it won’t be in Ferguson.
Well, other than the most obvious point that stealing a big screen TV doesn’t make up for a murdered teenager laying in the street for four hours and then being whisked away not in an ambulance, but a shady SUV. (No amount of minivans burnt in a car dealership can make up for that sad reality.)
How is it effective? How is–to borrow a quote from Rev. Al Sharpton–“burning your own stuff”–going to make things right? How is behaving like an animal, which law enforcement was banking on us doing, illustrate we aren’t to the white powers that be.
It doesn’t. It just makes us a distraction. The rioting and the looting divert attention away from the fact an unarmed–the prosecutor failed to mention that in the press conference–black teenager was shot 12 times and his murderer walks away. Unpunished.
So, yes let’s protest–peacefully–but more importantly, take back our power by letting our voices be heard. Not just in darkened streets near courthouses, but in voting booths where there’s proof our voices echo each other and demand a change.
Let’s demand body cameras for police officers around the country, elect state reps that support it, and have an honest debate (not just on Facebook) about race relations. We need to channel our frustrations towards making a change.
Otherwise we will be in this same place, next week, next month or next year mourning another young life ruled unworthy of justice.Let’s show them our lives matter. We all matter.