NaBloPoMo prompt: As part of the healing process, please talk about how you processed the events of Ferguson.
Continuing the theme from yesterday, and talk about how I processed my feelings around the murder of Mike Brown and the protests that followed. I admit I was a couple days late in finding out about the shooting of Mike Brown and the protests. When I heard about it I was immediately outraged. I believe the police did act excessively and I believe that the death of Mike Brown was in fact, a murder.
I follow a lot of the news around race and racism in this country and part of the reason I was outraged was because I already knew that this shooting was nothing new. I already knew that black men around the country were being treated unfairly by police and the justice system. I was outraged because nothing was changing!
I have heard so many white people tell me that racism is a thing of the past and that black people were the ones still holding on to it. I don’t understand how they can ignore events like this and claim that it isn’t about race. I got so angry reading the comments and tweets of people who were so obviously racist and yet they believed they were not racist. The ignorance I read was incredible!
I got angry reading about how the police handled the case as well. They filed nothing in their reports. They claimed that Mike Brown had been involved in a robbery. They allowed the cop who shot him to go free. They did everything except the things they should have done, apologize and investigate. When the protests started up they did everything wrong in response. Instead of listening and trying to heal the community they were charged with protecting, they showed up in full force to point guns at them and shoot tear gas canisters. The same things these people were protesting were the same things these officers continued to do.
The images I saw were heart breaking. Family and friends of Mike brown crying, tear gas victims screaming out in pain. I could not believe these were pictures taken in my own country! I could not believe we were still dealing with this. I was angry and I wanted so much to be with those people in Missouri. I wanted to stand up with them and fight back. Here in my own state in in my own circle of friends I did what I could to raise awareness. I am around a lot of white people all day and I noticed that none of them even mentioned Mike Brown or the protests. I took it upon myself to start the conversation.
Most of the white people I know are not really racist, mostly they are just ignorant of what black people experience. I think they think these events do not concern them. I also think they are afraid to talk about it. They are afraid to say something that might sound racist, either that or they are afraid of being exposed as racists. I let them know it is okay to talk about race. I want to hear what they think. Part of having a conversation on race is allowing white people some time to talk as well. Hearing how they really feel helps me clear up any misconceptions they might have.
People do not normally go out of their way to learn about people’s experiences if it does not directly affect them. The white people around me do not feel the need to learn about or examine their own personal prejudices. I force the people around me to look inside themselves and admit these prejudices and examine why they feel that way. I also call them out when I hear them say things I think are wrong or racist. I hope that I am helping them and maybe they will do the same for the other people they know.
Maybe they won’t though but this helps me process what is happening around the world to black men and women. I share their stories and I share my own. I want to do more, I should be doing more, but I never know where to start. As a mixed race person I also feel like my help may not always be welcomed. Throughout my life being half white has often made talking about racism with other black people hard. I try not to get defensive and just listen but I feel sometimes like a person with out a home. I plan to talk more about that in future posts. The point is, processing events like what happened in Ferguson can be difficult and complicated for me.
I am trying to find my place in the world and in the conversations about race. I think about it a lot and I want to be a part of it because my entire childhood centered around race. I know that racism is something that many people of color deal with on a daily basis. I think it is time this country got it together and stopped being so damn ignorant and petty. The color of someone’s skin is important. The country they came from is important. The cultures they are a part of are important. They color our experiences of the world and they connect us to our pasts. These things are part of our identities. These things should not invoke negative feelings. They should not be reasons for discrimination, exclusion, or violence.
I think we should all be saying positive things about people who look or act different from us. We should be helping each other, showing each other the utmost respect, and above all listening and learning from each other. That is how we all can process events like these. This is how we can all move forward. This is how we can all heal!