I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read it. No indictment? No charges? Part of me wasn’t surprised, but the other part of me, the optimistic part, was crushed. The Michael Brown case is another one of the countless examples of how black bodies are valued less than white bodies. This blog post isn’t going to express some very clear, academic opinion about this case. I really just need a place to express my feelings toward many things I have seen on social media and read in different places.
The first thing I thought of, obviously, is the part about bodies. We have seen so many instances where the black body (Michael Brown in this case) is valued less than a white body. Throughout history we have seen different bodies become the symbols of larger social movements such as Emmett Till. Some say that his death was one of the triggers to the Civil Rights Movement. Is it possible that Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and others will become the symbols of another social movement? The social movement will hopefully be one that will target the social injustice we see in the system we depend on to put bad guys in jail, NOT unarmed young black men that were shot for practically nothing at all. Even if, according to the evidence, there was some kind of struggle between Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, was it right for Brown to be shot? I ask you, was it right? None of us probably know what we would do in that situation, so it’s hard to say what is right and what is wrong.
Probably the thing that upset me most is that people are STILL arguing that we are in a post-racial era. NEWSFLASH! While things like the Ferguson and Trayvon Martin cases still happen, we will still be in an era where race is still a factor, and racism still exists. How many more will it take for us to acknowledge what is going on? How many more murders of unarmed black people will it take to convince us that racism is something still very real in our time? It is hard for me to imagine how anyone sees our society as anything different than racism still existing. It was interesting to me how I could clearly see privilege as a factor in many of the posts on Facebook that I read about this issue. More than usual, I could see that because privilege is invisible to most people, it becomes something that blocks us from seeing the systemic problems at work. I say “us” because I am not excluded from this. I like to think that I am aware of my privilege, but it is very easy to forget and blame others for not seeing it instead. It makes me think that if more white people were aware of their privilege, then maybe there wouldn’t be so much “us vs. them”.
This isn’t the most organized blog post in the world, and it seems as though I have more questions and unorganized thoughts than answers. There were just a few things I wanted to get off my chest about this. I wanted to address the fact that we are NOT in a post-racial society and that this issue is not done being discussed. It’s never done. I urge everyone to take up some kind of activism in the struggle for racial equality, but in the most peaceful way possible. I’m sitting in the Starbucks on campus watching the peaceful student protesters hold up their signs and cry for justice for Michael Brown and for Ferguson. The amazing thing was that the group started out small and has grown throughout the morning. This is the way I picture the movement going forward from here. A small group of people start in their peaceful cry for justice, and, over time, more and more people will join. They will continue the fight “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” -MLK Jr.