Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Situation in Ferguson Makes Me Angry

I've seen and heard a lot of commentary about the Michael Brown shooting and the more I hear, the madder I get. Some will attribute my anger and attitude to the fact that I'm part of the "privileged white establishment" and they're entitled to that opinion. Here's why I'm so livid:

1) The media keeps showing clips of people defending Michael Brown and attempting to portray him as a young black child. Get real! This was a 19 year old MAN. And not a small one at that. It's not like he was a 10 year old kid who was shot down while riding his bike or playing at a park.

2) This brings me to my next point- Michael Brown was caught on camera robbing a store immediately prior to his confrontation with the police officer. He wasn't some innocent young kid just walking home after buying a soda at the local corner store. No, he didn't get a chance to be put on trial for that crime, but no one can really dispute that it's him on the video, or that he would have been found guilty had he lived. Or that he had just committed a violent crime which had the cops on the lookout for him in the first place. Darren Wilson wasn't just cruising the hood looking for a black man to target. He was looking specifically for a suspect in a robbery.

3) There's a pervasive attitude that cops are out to "get" black men. Some probably are. Some likely nurse racist ideals and unfairly target blacks. There may very well be black cops who are more lenient on black men or who actively target white men also. Police officers are individuals and you get some of every type. But before you go assuming that "most" are like that, try talking to a few face to face. Ask them what it's like to put their lives on the line every day in order to try to keep our communities safe. Ask them what it feels like to respond to a call in one of the "bad" neighborhoods and have to worry about being assaulted or shot. Try to look at it from the their side- they go into neighborhoods that most of us don't want to, to protect people who often don't appreciate it and will turn against them if they make a mistake in doing their duty. Why the heck do any of them even bother??!

4) I also think it's interesting that Michael Brown's parents see a police officer doing his duty as an injustice that's been done to them. I understand them being upset, and I know there is enough police brutality to justify some sense of outrage in some instances, but this just isn't one of them. The officer was doing his job to the best of his ability. He made split second decisions based on what he perceived right in front of him at that moment. To expect a cop to always make perfect judgments in the heat of the moment is expecting him to be superhuman, and sorry folks, but Superman just isn't real. Rarely does anyone stop and actually think about what they would have done if they had a big guy coming at them repeatedly. Would you not be on alert and be expecting him to continue to come at you? Even if he suddenly put his arms in the air...wouldn't you still be extremely leery of what his next move was, and maybe assume the worst? If the blacks in Ferguson think they can do a better job of dealing with situations like this- let them. Let them police their own community for awhile and see if they aren't asking for help from the police again pretty quickly.

5) Let's face it- most of the problems in the black community are black related. From the high percentage of children born out of wedlock and raised without fathers, to drugs and gang violence, to a culture that glorifies thuggery and prison life...these are not things that the "white establishment" have pushed on the black community. (For an excellent viewpoint on how fatherlessness and immorality in the black community are the foundation of many of these problems, go to this link.)
It's time for black men and women to take a hard look at their own culture and lifestyle and admit that there are some serious problems that need to change. That change has to start with them. I, as a "privileged white woman," cannot go into their community and force them to change. I can't even offer to help them if they aren't willing to recognize the problem AND want to actually do something about it. (Nor am I really qualified. I'm not even insinuating that I'm better than them- just that I've been able to rise above crap in my life and would be happy to help anyone else do the same.)

6) This leads me to my next point. I'm sick and tired of the American victim mindset. "Poor me...look what everyone else has done to me...I'm stuck in my crappy life because of everyone else." I'm calling bullsh*t on that line of thinking. Yes, some people have privileges that others don't. Yes, blacks have been treated badly throughout the history of our country. Yes, we still have a long way to go before we enjoy true equality. But...we also each have the ability to rise above our circumstances. If we didn't, then we might as well adopt the caste system and accept that whatever you're born into, that's what you're going to be for the rest of your life. That's just not true in America, though. Many, many people have suffered from poverty, abuse, and other handicaps in their lives and still manage to become productive, happy, "privileged citizens." You can either blame your situation on the "establishment" or you can work hard on your education, learn new ways of thinking and doing, and become one of those who rises above. It's up to each individual to WANT to take a different path.

5) I'm mad as heck that everyone is up in arms over one police officer killing one black man but NO ONE is concerned about the black on black murder rate. NO ONE is speaking up about how blacks are killing their own young black boys. Or how their culture glamorizes a lifestyle that leads to drugs, violence, prison, and early death. Why is one black man's life worth so much when a white officer takes it in the line of duty, but all of the other THOUSANDS of black men's lives aren't worth even mentioning, much less protesting or rioting over? Why aren't black men's lives worth saving from their own? Where is the outrage for all of these nameless and faceless sons, husbands, brothers, and fathers?

7) I think it's the height of stupidity for a community to loot and riot their own neighborhood stores in order to "protest" what they see as an injustice. What kind of crazy ass thinking is that??! If I get a speeding ticket while another car who was going even faster than me doesn't...I don't go and slash the tires of innocent vehicle owners! I can't relate to that mindset even a little, nor do I want to. To agree with the idea that one injustice deserves a hundred others is insane. And that's what the looting and rioting amounts to. Injustice against all of the innocent store owners who have been there for that community all these years. There is no justice in lashing out against others in your pain. It'd serve the people right if those stores went ahead and closed and moved on elsewhere. Then what would those rioters do? Where do you get your food, clothes, cigarettes, etc. if you've run the stores out of your own neighborhood?

I know a lot of people will disagree with what I've said, and I'm fine with that. Convince me to think otherwise. I'd welcome that because I've become far too cynical and unsympathetic with people who won't take responsibility for their own actions and want to cry "poor me" instead of actually doing something to improve their lives. I don't care what race, color, religion, or sex you are. We are all humans, we are all children of God, and we all have the potential to rise above where we came from or where we've been.


Karen said...

Amen to everything you wrote!

Helen & Bill said...

Very eloquently stated. Maybe you could use it for one of your essays for your class. By the way, I totally agree with you. Right on sister!