Fan Friday—Ferguson Again


A lot of folks would say I’m a horrible person, but I really just want to say, “Knock it the hell off, Ferguson!” Why do I want to say this? A lot of reasons:

1. I’m tired of hearing about it.

2. I’m tired of worrying if my kid’s school will be affected, if we’ll be safe driving him there.

3. I’m tired of worrying about the violence spreading.

Besides all this, I’m tired of hearing the same old crap. From everyone.

Best I can tell, it comes down to these basic issues:

The protestors think they’re being discriminated against some/a lot/most of the time. They want justice for Mike Brown and others.

Obviously, being a white woman, I can’t really speak to the discrimination, but given the culture of today, many, many people are constantly being “offended” by one little thing or another and claim to be “picked on.” Many of us simply shrug and move on. Oh, I could easily take, for instance, the actions of drivers in the STL area quite personally and assume everyone is out to get me, but I curse, shrug, and move on. Seems like a lot of people could do the same, and everyone would be less “offended.”

At the same time, I have friends who have told me that many instances of blatant discrimination are quite real—and I believe them. Things I have a hard time believing are those like the story of the father of the recent shooting victim. He said that his son was a “good boy” and didn’t have a gun that night. Well, unless that dad frisked his son and was with him every moment, he can’t be 100% sure the kid didn’t have a gun. Stuff like this inflames everyone.

I have two boys, and one is in prison. I’m his mother, but I’m not dumb enough or naïve enough to believe everything he says. Hell, I normally don’t believe ANYTHING he says, ever, unless I have absolute proof right in front of me.

The other one is has never been in any kind of trouble at all—but, for example, I just found out today that one of his band camp activities was going to Swing Around Fun Town, a small fact he neglected to mention when I asked about that weekend. All he’d told me was that they “played music and had pizza.”

Sheesh. And I’m not complaining, it wasn’t an attempt to hide anything, he’s just vague on details sometimes. And, for the record, I’ve NEVER been a parent who automatically believes, when my kids are in trouble, that they’re pure, innocent angels; neither do I automatically believe they’re guilty.

So what is justice? Righting a wrong, having someone pay for a crime, being fair.

Is discrimination fair? Of course not. However, in the Mike Brown case, Darren Wilson was found not culpable. There was nothing to charge him with. STL County said that, and so did the feds.

That. Is. Justice.

You may disagree, that’s your right, but it IS justice. The facts were examined and a conclusion drawn, and that’s the way the process works. Demanding that it go YOUR way is not justice; that’s your opinion and also your right to hold.

This is the justice system.

Sometimes, it’s full of crap, but that’s the way it goes. My aforementioned son received a sentence of four years in the MO DOC for property damage. They said he bashed in a glass door at a gas station. He probably did. I’m still not convinced that’s right, because I’ve seen armed robbers and those charged with assault and DWI receive much lesser sentences, but that’s what the courts decided.

You break the law, you take your chances.

No, of course every crime doesn’t deserve death, but the powers that be decided that Mike was assaulting an officer and tried to grab his gun. I think even small children know this is risky. It’s not like Darren Wilson decided he was going to kill a black guy that day or anyone on any day.

And a lot of people are going to say, “Oh, so you’re TIRED. Big freakin’ whoop. How do you think I feel?”

Well, I don’t know. I’ve left an open invite to anyone involved in the protests to come talk to me, but I haven’t heard diddly. Okay, so maybe no one reads this. But a lot times, I think people like Antonio French and Chappelle-Nadal and others are just trying to get their own names out there. Seems like they go through the motions of caring but really don’t do much but yack and flail their arms around, trying to look like big shots.

So sue me. You won’t get much.

But if I can talk to people, why can’t you? Yes, you, whoever you are, reading this. It comes down to people, not parties, not race.

Black people are angry, but I think they might need to stop and look at exactly to whom they’re directing this anger. Okay, okay, it’s my opinion! Geez. Relax. All I mean is that it seems to be directed to cops and white people, all and in general.

Think about this—if you’re black, don’t you have at least one white friend? And if you’re white, you have at least one black friend, right? If neither of these apply to you, you need more friends. Seriously.

Do you hate your friend of a different race? Of course not. Do you agree with this friend about everything? Probably not. Do you actually TALK to this friend, have conversations, that sort of thing?

So there’s no problem, right? With you and your friend? What’s the difference, then, between your race and his? Black and white? Not very much.

Let’s talk history. MLK and Rosa Parks. I think a lot of people want to be like them, but this is a different era—much more violence, more media attention, more instant “news.” A lot has changed. You can’t go back in time and have a re-do of the civil rights movement. You have to create your own.

And I’m all for civil disobedience, but you have to temper that with the rights of others. I can quietly go about my own brand of civil disobedience, ignoring ridiculous county rules and regulations for example, and it affect no one but me. It does, however, get my point across, and if I were to organize others, we could perhaps have change.

If I did this, you would have maybe 100 people stop paying their trash bills—because they have other methods of trash disposal—instead of bowing to the government because it says you MUST pay for trash service, regardless of whether or not you use it. This is not, by the way, infrastructure; we all use roads, we all benefit from education and school taxes.

Trash pickup is purely arbitrary, much like health insurance. Ahem.

So, my point is that this would affect no one but those who refused trash service and the accompanying bill. It would not interfere with anyone else’s rights to travel, to be safe, to pay for and have their own trash picked up each week.

THAT is civil disobedience.

When you interfere with MY rights of free travel (I-70 shutdown), it does more than make me late for whatever appointment I may have. And guess what? It makes me angry. Hey, look—I’m angry too, just like you! Different reasons, and you may think your reasons are better, but it doesn’t matter; THAT is your opinion. My opinion is different. Neither is a fact.

What happens when I get angry? I don’t want to listen. When you are angry, you don’t want to listen either. So if the white people, who are, as some have said, “inconvenienced,” don’t want to listen, then what is the point of what you call “civil disobedience?”

Nothing. There is no point except to cause trouble.

Sure, there are white people who participated in the protests and the demonstrations. Good for them. But why are they there? Support? Solidarity? Belief in a cause? Are they truly your brothers and sisters, and if so, why? Why not all white people?

I really would like to know.

 

After I wrote this, I read a blog written by a black man who said white people always want to talk. Huh. Not sure I understand the problem. Communication goes a long way. Then again, I’m white. What do I know?

 

 

 

Prep Tuesday—Ferguson


I’ve barely blogged about the Ferguson situation these last two months, simply because, well, everyone else does, and besides: I’m a white woman, what could I possibly contribute?

And then I thought about it all, again, constantly, 24/7 it seems, and so here I am.

The grand jury decision is going to be announced any day, so we hear; any moment. Perhaps even by the time you’re reading this. The worst part is that we don’t know—not when, not what that decision will be. We’ve all, all of us, heard so many things. So much information, some reliable, some not so much. Over and over again. Pretty sure I’ve heard all sides of the story, all opinions.

So now I’m giving mine, and you might be surprised:

I think there was an altercation between Michael and Officer Wilson. I know that Wilson stopped Michael and his friend—that has never been in dispute; the law can be tricky this way, as much of the case will go to intent. Did the officer INTEND to kill Michael, what was he THINKING. Not just doing, but what was the entire situation? And no one but Michael and Officer Wilson know the entire story.

Michael is gone. Wilson is not. And that could skew things, certainly.

I tend to believe in the law. I believe that most officers are doing their jobs, admirably, and that sometimes bad things happen. I don’t believe that bad things happen ALL the time, or even MOST of the time.

But that could be because I’m white.

Was Michael targeted because of his skin color, in relation to the thoughts and feelings of Officer Wilson? I don’t think so—but that’s from my perspective. I’ve heard stories about racial profiling, but in the case of Ferguson itself I think it’s a matter of the population. Most residents are black, and the vast majority of police incidents involve a black suspect. That makes sense, from a numbers perspective. One of my friends told me of her husband being pulled over because of a robbery near our home—the suspect was a black male. To me, that also makes sense.

When I was 16, I was driving my dad’s pickup home from a horseshow. I wasn’t speeding or doing anything illegal, but I was pulled over by three police cars—THREE—because the pickup I was driving matched the description of a pickup spotted earlier that was speeding and weaving through traffic. Scared the bejeezus out of me, but the police were doing their job, stopping someone who met a specific description. Didn’t change my opinion of the police.

Then again, it happened once. Not multiple times, as some of my friends have had happen.

So, is this a black/white thing? I’m still not sure. Would it even be a thing if Officer Wilson were black? I don’t know. I’ve read that many people think the black community—whatever that means—doesn’t care about so-called black-on-black crime, and I have to say that is absolutely NOT true. Of course they care, many people of all colors care, because these are senseless deaths. When there’s a major disaster, does anyone stop grieving to ask, “Wait a minute, what COLOR were the victims?” Of course not.

See, here’s the thing: regardless of color, parents try to raise their kids right. Some, all colors, are more successful than others. Sure, sometimes you can blame those parents, all colors, for doing stupid things or not caring—yes, sometimes parents DON’T care, all colors—but each kid is his own person and will ultimately do WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS.

By all accounts, Michael was a nice guy. That doesn’t mean that he was a nice guy all the time. Doesn’t mean he was a saint and did everything right. No one does. No, not even Officer Wilson. His supporters say he was a great guy too. But something happened that day, between two great guys. That’s the truth.

But now I’m afraid. Because I’m white. And because my son goes to school near Ferguson. And he’s white. I think I might know a little bit about what my friends mean when they say they’re targeted because they’re black. The difference here is that if I’m attacked by a civilian, as a civilian I could fight back; if I’m stopped by the police, the authorities, my ability to fight back is limited by that authority.

See, I was raised to respect authority, so if I’m stopped by police, I comply however I can, and quickly too. I assume I’ve done something wrong; sometimes, I even knew what it was (expired plates!). No one is perfect, but I do my best to follow the law. Black people aren’t alone in feeling fear when stopped—heart racing, palms sweating, mind whirling. It happens to everyone.

Someone will ask what I mean, and if I mean that blacks DON’T comply with an officer’s request or that blacks try to circumvent the law. I DO NOT MEAN THAT. Further, I don’t mean that one should feel the need to be subservient to an authority, to bow his head and take whatever comes.

I DO mean respect for the law, and before anyone can jump in and ask if I mean that Michael had no respect for the law, I DO NOT MEAN THAT.

As far as I know.

I do know and have run into plenty of “kids,” Michael’s generation, black and white, that have NO respect for authority. Could it be the parents’ fault? Maybe. More likely, it’s a generational thing. I know kids who mouth off at the police, who refuse simple requests, who are just general assholes. By all accounts, Michael was not as asshole, but he DID refuse a simple request. Should he have been shot for that, especially if that was what the entire situation was about? No.

But just think, for a brief moment, how differently things could have turned out if he’d said, “Yes, sorry, of course,” and moved to the sidewalk. Recent news media has suggested that, after his refusal to get out of the middle of the street, Officer Wilson THEN heard about the robbery, etc. But if Michael had robbed the store then he already had little respect for the law OR for authorities. I don’t know why, and neither do you.

And so I’m afraid of this entire situation. Not afraid of the protestors, but of those few assholes among their ranks. If you’re black, you’ll understand this fear—much like fearing those few assholes who are officers. I believe the vast majority of protestors ARE peaceful and DO want change. I believe changes are necessary. But there are some that just want chaos.

Read the comments on news stories. Most people who comment, I think, just want to stir the pot—anonymously, from the comfort of their homes. Many are assholes, just like those few protestors I mentioned. I really believe that most people, black and white, want a peaceful resolution, but I’m afraid of those who don’t. Black or white.

And so I prep—for this, and many other reasons. I can be safe and comfortable, armed and defended, and I can and will hope and pray that peace reigns over the entire area. I’m ten miles from Ferguson; not close at all. But then I’ll see a Tweet or read a comment, and yes, I know fear.

But when I see things online, like people who appear to be perfectly reasonable, nice human being saying things like:

“We tired of this shit!”

“Loot the white neighborhoods!”

“Tell the whitey we coming for him!”

Yes, I’m prepared. The worst is the not knowing, waiting for the announcement.

But for many, the worst may well be the announcement itself.