I’ve been glued to Twitter the past few days.
Twitter is how I first heard of the shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black, 18-year old, Ferguson, Missouri resident, shot multiple times and killed by a police officer. Yet another “shoot first, ask questions and apologize later” incident. Yet another unarmed black American killed. Another life taken too soon, a child snatched from his devastated parents who surely didn’t expect to have to bury their own son, the people whom are supposed to protect and serve their fellow citizens seeming more and more like the aggressor, the opposition. And still no answers. We still don’t know who shot and killed him as the police department won’t release the name of the shooter. Anonymous has other ideas though.
After days of escalating anger, violence, rumors and unrest, traditional mainstream media appeared largely to ignore it (MSNBC and The Washington Post, notable exceptions). This morning I awoke to hear my local San Francisco news station covering the eruption last night, followed by “Breaking News” from “The Today Show” about last night’s events, photos and videos resembling what Americans are accustomed to seeing in “those other countries” where war seem constant. “Breaking News?” This shit started going down days ago!
I know, I know…many stories are vying for our collective attention: the Ebola outbreak, the violence in Iraq, IS(IS), the Ukraine, the deaths of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, Syria, Gaza and the everyday ills of the world. But what happened and is happening in Ferguson and elsewhere in the US is important too. I’ve written about how I sometimes feel black Americans are still treated as second class citizens, the scourge of the US; how our voices too often go unheard, cries of racism dismissed with cavalier statements, “Stop playing the race card,” “Don’t be such a victim,” “You’re being racist [by recognizing racism exists],” or “Blacks needs to stop blaming whites for their problems! Take responsibility!” I’m so tired of having to explain to people that racism is still very much embedded in the soil of this country when evidence is right in our faces daily.
Yet, America largely still turns a blind eye when black people are suspiciously killed. Are our lives less valuable than those of other Americans, those with paler skin hues? Why is it that when a black American is killed, people want to play respectability politics? “Well, he was wearing a hoodie.” “He dressed like a thug!” “He threw up
peace gang signs!” “She had alcohol in her system.” “He was carrying Skittles!” As if any of this justifies ending someone’s life. Discrediting the statements of eyewitnesses because they don’t speak perfect Standard American English.
I am angry. I am sad. I am tired. I am extremely bothered, but unsurprised that it seems it wasn’t until white people started getting hurt that the mainstream media woke up and decided to do their jobs.
I have so much more to say, but many others have already said so much, so eloquently.
If you want to stay up to date on the events as they unfold, or catch up on what you may have missed, here are a few of the articles I’ve found informative:
* Momentum builds against police presence in Ferguson – 8/11/14, (updated 8/14), Vox
* Anonymous’ “Op Ferguson” Says It Will ID the Officer Who Killed Michael Brown – 8/12/14 (updated 8/14), MotherJones
* Two Journalists Reportedly Arrested Without Cause, Assaulted in Ferguson – 8/13/14, Gawker
* The Death of Michael Brown Racial History Behind the Ferguson Protests – 8/12/14, The New York Times
* This is Why We’re Mad About the Shooting of Mike Brown – 8/11/14, Jezebel
Some folks on Twitter who’ve been doing some real work raising awareness and reporting on the story:
* Elon James White – On the ground in Ferguson; CEO & Writer, This Week in Blackness
* Feminista Jones – Instrumental in organizing tonight’s National Moment of Silence in honor of those victimized by police brutality; Writer, Contributor to Salon, HuffPost
* Jonathan Capeheart – Opinion writer for The Washington Post
* Jamelle Bouie – Writer for Slate