I’ve seen that hashtag used a number of different ways in the days that have followed the death of Michael Brown. Some in solidarity as people have grieved the death of an 18 year old. And then some of the more troubling posts across social media.
For the most part, I really neglect my facebook. And when I do peruse it, I mostly read jiu jitsu articles or watch jiu jitsu videos. I’ve turned it into an ADD person’s jiu jitsu news feed. I’m a little obsessed. And I like it that way. 🙂
But since August 9th, when Michael Brown faced his untimely death, it has also shown the multiple viewpoints towards this moment in time. And I have to say that I am horrified. I’ve seen people make comparisons to Trayvon Martin. Both on the side that they were both unarmed kids that were killed and then the more racist driven views. And then I remember that as much as I don’t really gauge people based on the the color of their skin, there are others, many, many others that do. Instantly he is a thug. He obviously did something to deserve to be shot 6 times, twice in the head.
I guess because I spent most of my childhood in Europe, the racism that is so rampant in the United States, I was shielded from. I don’t think I realized that I was even “different”. It wasn’t until I moved to America that I started to realize that my face looked different than others. And it wasn’t because I realized it so much as other people felt so free to bring it up. I didn’t realize there was such an underlying rippling of hatred until I sat in an ex’s mother’s living room, listening to his family spew some of the most vile things I had ever heard. I sat crippled, not knowing how to react. When his mother voiced something about how she hoped her children were never involved in an interracial relationship, I sat slack-jawed. She turned towards me, maybe sensing my horror, and so nonchalantly threw out “Well, you don’t count. I just think of you as white.” Umm…thanks?? I was 18 years old.
It was and still is strange to me when these nationwide instances of racism rise up. And I am also shocked by what people that I think I know will say during these time. This may be the thing that will drive a wedge between myself and others that I know but I feel that to remain silent is irresponsible. It hurts me to read some of the comments that are out there, for all to see. It hurts me to think that this boy’s parents have to not only grieve the death of their child, they must also read and hear on social media, on the news and in their own community that this 18 year old, their 18 year old was worthless. That he deserved to be gunned down on the street. That he didn’t deserve a fair trial, as others in this country receive everyday.
Because I think that is what we all forget while we sit on our soapbox, whatever our platform. We forget that while we let hate drive our thoughts and comments and news stories, there is a family that sits in their home in Ferguson, MO, grieving for their 18 year old boy that will never see the life the rest of us will enjoy. We can debate for weeks,months and years that he may or may not have committed a crime prior to his death. We can choose to believe the stories that he had drugs in his system and that is another justification for his death. We can scream about the multiple instances where similar stories are not reported and made national news because they were the “wrong” race. But none of that will do any good. None of that erases the fact that an 18 year old boy lost his life. A family grieves a life that ended 18 years after it started. That he will never marry. Never have kids. Never grow old.
In the midst of bad decisions, we as a nation do not also need to make bad decisions. Instead of turning on one another, picking apart a life that sadly we will all forget long before the pain of his family has settled, why do we not choose to turn to others in love? Why do we not realize that life is short and fleeting and embrace those that we still have the honor to enjoy?
I don’t presume to know what actually happened on August 9th. I don’t know what Michael was doing or what the police were thinking. I don’t know why the news channels choose to report one story but neglect another, and please remember, it is the news channel executives that decide which stories air, not the people on the streets, but I can venture a guess. But I do know when we choose to turn on our fellow man (or woman) based solely on the color of their skin, we chose to dishonor not only them but ourselves. So I ask you, before you post a hateful article on either side of this story, before you post an ugly comment, how would you like others to respond to you if you were any part of this horrific incident. This isn’t a movie on HBO, these are real people’s lives. Michael’s family. The police officers’ families. There is a community in upheaval. The last thing that is needed is an entire country of people fanning the flames.