On August 9, 2014, a young Black male by the name of Michael Brown was shot and killed by a White police officer, Darren Wilson. The event caused a media firestorm. The town of Ferguson, MO a suburb 8 miles from St. Louis, became the hot bed of protests, riots and then looting…all while media outfits from all over the place took videos of it all. Cries of racism, injustice, police brutality and inappropriateness where absolutely everywhere. There was no escaping it.
What was very quickly buried was the circumstances of the situation which started it all. Coming in more than a year off of the Zimmerman verdict, it seemed that the American liberal community, and the Black community especially, were quick and ready to cry “foul”! It was an easy call to make. Michael Brown had just graduated from high school a few months prior. He was shot multiple times and his body was left unattended to in the street for several hours. Michael Brown was unarmed, and it was a clear excessive use of force. So it seemed.
Quickly political and ideological lines were drawn; and sadly, they were drawn off of soundbites and incomplete information. The media focused on the police force’s brute force against rioters (sometimes themselves getting caught up in the skirmish). And people bought into it, hook line and sinker. Liberals focused on racist cops killing an unarmed (so innocent?) Black man; conservatives focused on the fact that Michael Brown was not the poster child of good citizenship, and officer Wilson was simply defending himself against a criminal.
The smoke began to clear when an autopsy report revealed that Michael Brown was shot at close range in the hand, giving credence to Darren Wilson’s account that he was being attacked by Michael Brown, and that he was trying to grab the officer’s gun away from him. Paints the story in a different light right? People are either cheering and saying, “See, I told you so.” or deftly throwing in, “….Oh but the police are still over-militarized and racism is still and issue.” Here’s a quote from Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, a pastor who is protesting in Ferguson, when asked about the burning and looting:
“I mean, it is not my preference, no,” he said. “I’m more concerned about the conditions that produced this — the simmering poverty, the simmering oppression, the simmering alienation, the existential crises that black youth feel in America. I am far more concerned about the condition that produced the burning of buildings.”
Oh my goodness!
Listen, I’ll be the first person to tell you that America definitely has issues with racism; and we also have police/authority abuse issues. But here’s the thing…what happened in Ferguson, MO last August is a very bad example of either of these issues. Everyone jumped the gun here. Whether you were right or wrong, the truth is, everyone made a big issue of this incident before all the facts were clear…completely disregarding the right to justice for either officer Wilson or the family of Michael Brown.
What Ferguson, MO is a good example of, is our move towards becoming a totally sensationalist, fly-by-wire kind of culture where self-righteousness trump the pursuit of facts and justice. And let’s remove all of the spotlight, and national attention, and politics away from this. Before August 9, 2004, what was Michael Brown up to? Yes, he may have been looking forward to starting “college”, which was to be Vatterott College, a trade school. And no, there is nothing wrong with trade school; but keep in mind, most will take you if you have a pulse. It is not real demonstration that Michael Brown was a great student or an upstanding person. His juvenile arrest record remains closed, so I won’t speculate about that. However a young man who would physically confront a working police officer has some sort of issues with violence. And of course, some people will then whine and moan about how life in his poverty-stricken area was so hard and difficult, what more could we expect from him?
My honest response? A lot! We could (and should) have expected a lot more!
Well, here’s where I quote my Grandfather, who blessed me with this wonderful piece of advice years ago…
“Don’t make excuses for your bad behavior or anyone else’s”
I also grew up in a poor area, with a bunch of low-lives, with almost no form of constructive outlets for young people. But I had a great family. A family that taught me to do the right thing, no matter how unpopular it made you. Yes, I was definitely a lonely child. But I was never arrested. I was never in a confrontational situation with a police officer. And if I was, I’m sure that my family would have taken the route of pursuing legal justice through the courts, and admonished me if I tried to take “justice” into my own hands.
I don’t want any kinda of medal for making it out of the ghetto without an arrest record, a drug habit, or a baby in tow. I realize that peer pressure is real…and for Black people, you run the risk of real social ostracization if you are into education, and talent/skill building outside of athletics. But that is an internal Black cultural problem. It has nothing to do with racism.
It is shameful that Black media-whores such as Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton have (and most likely will continue) used this incident as an opportunity to get in front of the cameras again. What they should be doing is putting money into programs that promote education and the arts in low-poverty, high crime, Black neighborhoods. Something where the kids don’t have to see violence and thugging as their only outlet (unless you can run real fast or jump real high). Until either of them do that, I don’t want to hear anything they have to say.
And America shouldn’t either.
Stop believing what other people tell you to be true…and be brave and bold enough to think for yourself.