Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This is a Ramble of Sorts


 
Greetings Dear Brothers & Sisters,

So, I began this post last week, but so much has happened (and continues to) that has given me a great deal more to say. I’ve been following and posting on the ever-developing situation in Ferguson for over a week now. Each day, I witness and document what’s taking place for a number of reasons. I know it’s clich├ęd, but I legitimately believe that information is power. I also firmly believe that in America in 2014, a situation like this should not be happening, especially if we’re still claiming to be The Land of the Free. Period (for the record, I believe these kinds of abuses shouldn’t occur anywhere).  I think this is the first time we’ve witnessed anything this intricate and volatile over the course of the past thirty or more years, and I can elaborate why.

So many things have been fascinating to witness over the course of the past week. The misinformation provided by some members of the Associated Press, as well as the police, for starters. Also, the restrictions placed on the basic rights of the residents of Ferguson and journalists (Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery from The Washington Post were arrested while in a McDonalds. Apparently, they were taken in for not leaving soon enough… because they were told to do so by the police without a reason being given.).


The core of the situation is about Mike Brown’s death. It is at the heart of everything, and it’s important to keep that fact in mind. However, the situation has also grown beyond that. The chaos that has ensued, that, with each passing day, casts the local police in a darker and darker light (and it would appear that they’ve been fine with that for the most part, because there really hasn’t been much of an attempt to rectify anything that’s transpired up to this point until the past few days). We’re witnessing the trampling of rights, the detainment of Americans, etc. It is both shocking and terrifying.

I also find it interesting how some people have responded to the reports, videos, pictures, etc. that have appeared. A girl on Twitter last week asked a question regarding rioting and looting. I posted an account from Wesley Lowery that stated that there had, at the time, only been ONE night of such activity. She responded by telling me to “shut up” and asked if I was actually in Ferguson. We went back and forth for a bit (she’s very anti-violence, but already made it up in her mind that the protestors were the responsible, violent parties), and it became apparent to me that she wasn’t interested in really finding out what was happening. I gave her a number of credible sources to follow if she was so inclined, but I knew that that wouldn’t be the case.


At the end of the conversation, she asked me to shut up again and go away. Then, she reiterated the she was on the side of Mike Brown, but was against violence, rioting, and looting. I’ve seen several other correspondences shake out pretty much the same way. I think it’s extremely jarring that people, also, are crafting their own narrative to the events, where good, credible, boots on the ground reporting is taking place and extremely easy to find. I’m not sure if it’s an issue of not believing what’s transpiring (which I can understand. A great deal of this seems like something out of a movie), or people just hearing bits and pieces and feeling like they know it all, when we’re really just at the tip of this ordeal.

I’ve had the chance to dialogue with a good number of people over the course of the past week, and it’s been fascinating in a lot of ways. I went back and forth with a guy who said that the residents had lost his sympathy because of looting, and that, while he agrees that the police have acted in a heavy-handed fashion, he faulted the citizens of Ferguson for giving them reason to do so. I told him that I don’t think that the people there are concerned with his, or necessarily, anyone else’s sympathy. They want justice and answers, which, I believe, the vast majority of us would desire if we were in a similar situation.  Also, I said that I didn’t feel that there’s ever good reason for those in authority to act in a way that abuses the powers we, as a society, give them. Police officers take an oath to serve and protect everyone regardless of creed, age, gender, etc.


Another person I talked with stated that violence is never the answer. I told him that it’s extremely elitist to have that perspective. It’s partially due to violence that we’re all here in America. Wars and battles have been fought for freedom, so saying that violence isn’t ever the answer just seems like that isn’t taken into account. Plus, it’s easy to dictate what should and shouldn’t happen in Ferguson (or anywhere else for that matter) when you’re not dealing with what the people who are there are experiencing. I can’t, as a Black man in Tennessee, tell anyone in Gaza that violence isn’t the answer, because I don’t encounter what the people there do on a daily basis. Make sense? How entitled would I have to be to assign those particular standards on the rest of the world, especially when my slab of it is so miniscule?

Switching gears, I feel like this situation is showing us an honest glimpse of who we are as a country when it comes of matters of race, place, justice, etc. If what I’ve witnessed with people outside of the situation is any indication, a lot of us are miles apart on how we view things. I won’t say all, but I feel like most of us carry a certain degree of prejudice, from how some of us view hipsters to how others clutch purses when people darker than them are around. I don’t think prejudice by itself necessarily equates to anything extremely pronounced, but if those prejudices are allowed to go unchecked, they have all the makings to turn into something deep-seated with a broader reach. Over the past week, I’ve seen quite an amazing display of prejudice, and it’s kind of astonishing to me to witness just how open people are about expressing it. Granted, I think, in the long run, it’s better because you know where some people stand, but it’s still personally surprising how comfortable people are in their view of the world and the rest of the people in it.

I don’t want to ramble on too long, and I know that I’ll have more to say on the matter as things continue to develop. However, my charge for you who are reading this is (if you’re so inclined) to go back to August 9th, and truly follow what’s been transpiring. Don’t just rely on one source, because the story is far too layered for you to follow one outlet and think that you’re sufficiently informed. Also, put yourself in the shoes of those who are there and seriously question how you’d be responding. It could be an eye-opening exercise, because (in my humble opinion, of course) what ties us together is more abundant than that which stands between us.

Blessings

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