As we look at the narratives that are currently playing out in our Social Medias, and in the very real, very tangible situation in Ferguson, Missouri, I notice now more than ever that people are becoming very aware of what is a truly divided story, a split narrative, over voice, human rights, equality in our nation, and how we as people treat each other on many different bases, in light of a grand jury’s decision over the death of teen Michael Brown.
As I write this, I want a few things to quickly become apparent. First off, I do not claim to know anything I do not know. I’m a teenager. I don’t know a lot of things. I especially do not know what exactly happened on the night of August 9th in the town of Ferguson, Missouri. I truly don’t think that there are many people alive that do. Many different people will claim to have answers as to how to properly deal with this situation. I am not one of these people. My purpose, more so than anything else, is to share what I have noticed in light of everything that’s happened as a result of the great tragedy of the death of another young, African-American male. Lastly, I’m not African American. I’m Hispanic, Jesuit-educated, and simply another voice in this discussion.
But first, I’d like to say that this truly hasn’t been much of a discussion. As Emily Bartran notes in her own article on ElephantJournal.com, a lot of what’s been occurring on the Social Medias, and really any Medias on which Ferguson has been discussed, people are very apt to shout their opinions on this case, and cases eerily similar to this one, simply because they can. No singular opinion is more important than anyone else’s if it only leads to a giant, angry shouting match. Honestly, people might fire at me when they realize I’ve also commented on anything having to do with this situation. But that’s quite alright. See, discussion and conversation are important in these situations where everyone has an opinion. Actually, dialogue leads to people gaining knowledge, in the means of figures, facts, numbers, statistic, and specific details, which lead all people who are open to listening to a more informed view-point. Learning, of any sort, is lost when we cannot find it in ourselves to simply listen. Ignorance is kind to no one, especially when the lives of people are at stake.
Sometimes, we need to find the heroes who are willing to honestly discuss what they feel, in a very nonjudgemental way. Such as in Benjamin Watson’s Facebook post detailing his feelings about the announcement made by the grand jury, and the protests that had occurred out of that decision. In his post, he details his feelings towards pop culture, the looters in Ferguson, police officers, and his own being an African-American male in modern America. It speaks true to the fact that even being a successful, educated adult (who play professional Football) does not exclude him from his existence in a society where racism is still alive, although there has been progress made from pre-Civil Rights America.
Most importantly, though, I feel like many people don’t understand why this is “such a big deal.” The point is that a young, African American male died at the hands of a Caucasian Police Officer. The truth is that although the specific actions leading up to the death of Michael Brown might never be completely known, and the death might be, from the perspective of the Ferguson Police Department, “justified,” this is only one out of many cases of the disadvantages of being “non-white” in a white dominated culture. Michelle Alexander eloquently puts forth the argument that there is a new, caste-like system of social inequalities being propagated forth by our very social structures, which limit the rights of people of color, especially African Americans, in the United States, in her book, The New Jim Crow.
The facts are there. White Privilege is a very true reality. Here are a few examples of some heinous abuses of this white privilege. But my point is not to shame Caucasians. If it was, I’d never achieve anything of note. My point is that, those willing to read, and then possibly be offended, will realize how unjust our systems (meaning that there are multiple systems working against people of color in the United States) truly are, and will possibly begin to act in such a way to limit the abuses of White Privilege.
Lastly, I’ll leave with two more links I find important, for very different reasons.
First, I leave with the New York times link that shows all of the documents and evidence released in the trial of whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the case of the murder of Michael Brown.
Lastly, I will link to the post on the Ignatian Solidarity Network by two young Jesuits at Saint Louis University as they joined protestors in Ferguson, Missouri.
It breaks my heart to see these cases on the Televison, or on Social Media, or to simple hear about them in conversations with friends. But truly, that won’t stop me from actively choosing to see, or listen. At the end of the day, I believe that no one person has the right to take the life of another. Even if Officer Wilson felt safety for his life, I don’t believe he had the right to murder an unarmed, African American, teenage boy. If Michael Brown was truly placing the life of officer Wilson in jeopardy, then that is also not right. Regardless of the situation, the Black teen is now dead, and the White officer is free from charges, but if the White officer were dead, I don’t believe the Black teen would be free of charges. That, to me, is injustice.
But that’s only what I, a young, male, Hispanic, college student, have to say about it.
Here’s usually where I post my daily gratitude. Currently, I’m grateful to be alive. I hope that these tragedies will bring our nation together, and not simply further divide us. But, one can only hope, and in the case of this specific Catholic, I pray.