I’ve heard that there is no excuse for violence in Ferguson.
I’ve heard that America needs to get together and “solve these issues”.
Which we are supposed to do peacefully, politely, and nicely.
To solve an issue, you first must look it in the face. You must name it, and know it, and critically examine it before you are able to build the resolve to undertake its destruction. The current state of anger, rage, and upset that is spreading across our country is unsettling. It is upsetting and, in some cases, has become destructive. As emotion pours into the streets of our nation’s cities, it is worth noting that it does not come from a place of random, unassigned destructiveness and disregard for the social contract. It comes from a place of deep pain, developed over decades of sustaining a social condition of pervasive inequality in our nation. The rage of our nation is legitimate, founded, and demands attention.
I do not promote any type of violence, ever. Acts that cause physical, emotional, and psychological pain to others rob us of our own humanity and damage opportunities for connection and compassion. But resistance to the pervasive inequality in our society cannot be quiet, polite, or peaceful. Because the nature of oppression is that the oppressed are divested of their voices and the privileged get to go along without ever having to hear the cries of injustice and pain. So it seems that the cries must become louder. Those who know that what’s happening is unjust and who are not willing to accept the tired excuses of a self-serving system need to start yelling about it. Especially if you have privilege. If you are white, step up and start doing something and saying something. And if you are white and don’t think it’s your responsibility, or role, or whatever, take one tiny step out of the shroud of your privilege and get your shit together. Seriously.
Darren Wilson gave an interview tonight and said that his “conscience is clear.” This surely illustrates the pathology of privilege in this country. He shot an unarmed kid twelve times and he’s cool with it and doesn’t think that he could have done anything differently. Not a single conscience in this nation should be clear. Not a single one. Because we are embroiled in a system of privilege and oppression. We are existing every day in a system that gives value, opportunity, and safety to some while literally taking the lives of others. If you have found yourself justifying or explaining away the outcome of the grand jury proceedings in Ferguson, if you have found yourself saying “police officers are hardly ever indicted,” or “I don’t know what really happened, because I wasn’t there,” or “the justice system did its work and we just have to trust it,” stop letting those excuses exist and see what happens. Start listening to the radical voices. Start listening to the voices that say “I’m not sure that I trust our justice system,” or “I just can’t understand why a police officer would shoot an unarmed person twelve times,” or “I’m disturbed by police brutality in our nation,” or “I know that racism is a pervasive force that influences my thoughts and actions.” Listen to those thoughts, and then get angry.
If we want to get together and “solve our issues,” we need to let the fear, anger, and frustration about racial inequality have a voice and a space. We should all be profoundly uncomfortable and disturbed about what’s happening in our country now and what has happened in the past. So let’s start by believing that we have a big problem, making noise about it, and forcing the nation to listen.