I’ve had to rub my temples at least 500 times over the past week. Watching the events unfold both on the news and social media has been exhausting. Tear gas, illegal curfews, assumptions, allegations, and outright lies have consumed our daily conciousness for going on nearly 2 weeks. Then I came across a picture of a protester’s sign that really hit hard.
Last year, it was Trayvon. This summer alone, it’s been Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, and most recently just miles away from Ferguson, Kajieme Powell. None in the act of committing a felony. None posing actual deadly harm to the officers that confronted them (although Powell did have a knife). Yet, they’re all dead. They’ve prematurely become martyrs for a hopeful movement. A movement that has paralyzed the small neighborhood of Ferguson, Missouri and outraged people as far as Turkey. The other commonality is that we’ve been here before.
There was a stretch of time in the early 2000s when school shootings kept happening. Although Columbine was the 1st mass school shooting, before that, there were 2 incidents in Paducah, KY and Jonesboro, Ark. From 1999 onward, it felt as if every few months, the media was circulating snapshots of youthful faces. Families were in news studios talking about should’ve been. In December 2012, the country felt that sorrow deeply when Sandy Hook Elementary was the target of a psycho ass white boy’s rage. Personally that sat with me for awhile because the victims were basically babies. It happened so close to the time of year that little kids are excited about. Within a few weeks though, we were all back to our normal lives. Our minds moved on from that tragedy because we needed to be replenished to be able to handle the next one.
And that’s what I wondered last night as I read up on the latest developments in Ferguson. Are we just getting to used to this type of grief? Are we stuck in a cycle of emotion? Based on the massive protesting and mobilization of resources, people are fed up. We’re tired of mourning young lives in general. For black people, we’re tired of validating our right to simply be and live among the populous. We’re tired of young black men and women being gunned down for no legitimate reason. We’re tired of listening to BS ass respectability politics. But, but…weren’t we tired last year during the Trayvon Martin trial? It felt like a slight victory when Renisha McBride’s murderer was charged and found guilty. Yet here we are back to protesting for the arrest and indictment of another trigger-happy white person. I mean, the reality has been obvious for over a decade now. White men are going to continue to shoot black men and women out of nothing more than paranoia and a perceived threat.
What does bring some hope is Ferguson, MO has the attention of the world. Maybe I’m being an idealist, but I feel this time could be different. Aside from the blatant human rights violations, the people are not letting up. Arresting Darren Wilson will not be the end. The verdict, guilty or not, will not be the end. Every historic movement had a catalyst. White people have to be honest about 1 thing: the regularity of devaluing black lives is absolutely a racial problem. If enough of them accept that and help us address it with legislation, maybe this familiarity of mourning black lives will stop being a “thing”.