“The real work of humanity is to be human,” Pastor Michael Waldrond.
I remember when I saw an Instagram post about a young man being gunned down by a white policeman while walking with his friends in the street. But as national interest grew around the story and more details followed, I became unsettled by what was happening in America. I could barely get through an hour at work without searching Twitter or Google for an update on what was happening in Ferguson. If I could pay my rent without working, I would have walked out of that office and hit Union Square for a rally.
People were still not okay with the Zimmerman verdict from the previous year and now a year later, another young black boy was killed senselessly. According to their assailants, these boys were aggressive, dangerous and threatening. People just had enough and Ferguson rose like fire literally and figuratively to call out their justice system and start a debate about race in America. It still amazes me how this small town became a social movement for change that brought hundreds of activists and journalist to this Greater St. Louis suburb. The protestors were even runner-up for TIME’s “Person of the Year”. Colleges around the world staged photos of their hands up out of reverence to Mike Brown’s words, “Don’t Shoot!” And cities around the nation held demonstrations calling for justice, equality for all human lives. Eric Garner’s death by the hands of cops also circulated news and social media, but it did not have the same national empathy that Mike Brown’s death did in my opinion.
Fast forward to the last Monday, November 25th and Wednesday, December 3rd and the world watched as Staten Island and Ferguson decided not to indict the men who killed these unarmed Black men. I was sick to my stomach Monday as I watched St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch draw out the news of non-indictment with rhetoric concerning social media and discreditable witnesses. As long as he took, I knew then what the decision would be. I agree with what many of my peers said when it came to McCulloch. I, too, have never seen a prosecutor work so hard to advocate for the defense. From there petitions went up to have all law enforcement wear cameras, however a week later Garner’s death, which was filmed on a mobile device received no indictment. At this point it has nothing to do with cameras and such. It has to do with race and abuse of power. The New York Police Commissioner said that the city would retrain all of its force, but you can’t retrain anti-prejudices that people already have instilled in them.
How can this be in 2014? But like Pastor Mike of First Corinthians Baptist Church stated, we aren’t new to this. On Sunday my pastor spent the service discussing Ecclesiastes 1:9:
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
There will be another Trayvon Martin, another Mike Brown and another Eric Garner. The thing is how do we create an impacting change. I disagreed with the Black Friday boycott, because although I understand that Black people contribute trillions of dollars to the economy through consumer purchases it just didn’t feel like it would hit home to the lawmakers. Policy is definitely key and in light of these incidents, I vow to become more involved of the state and local affairs in which I vote in. I hope my friends hold me accountable to this. I just want us to reflect on the past and how our ancestors handled these situations. How did we as a people overcome that obstacle and how can we spin it so that it is affective in 2014? Pastor Mike said it best, “ You have to create new mechanisms to deal with old enemies.”
During a protest for Mike Brown in August, I ran into my Howard classmate, Kiri Davis. I saw her filming the protest in Harlem and as we caught up on each other’s lives, I discovered she was working on a new documentary about Black males and the justice system. She started the project during Trayvon’s death but said that every time she is close to being finished, another Black life is taken. Kiri is an award-winning filmmaker for her documentary on the new-day twist of the 1940s “doll experiment” called A Girl Like Me. She was even featured on Oprah. Although her documentary is still a work in progress, she took the time to create a PSA in September. I came out to help her in the task and it premieres next week. Take a look at the behind the scenes:
To Be Continued…