Another Day, Another Travesty

Another day has dawned and yet again we are mourning another black youth. This story is so old, so common that it is almost miraculous that it has even come to light. In some ways, perhaps the wall to wall coverage is a mark of progress.

This doesn’t feel like progress though. Black families mourning black young people is an old and deeply-routed fact in this country. Justice never on time. Justice rarely served. New century, old demons rearing their ugly head. Martin and Malcolm long gone but the dream remains just that—a dream. Reality for people of color is bleak, futile, and then someone murders your child, your only source of joy and pride, in the street like an animal. And you don’t see what the big deal is?

The big deal is that justice is supposed to be blind. But it never is. Justice sees money. Justice sees power. And, justice especially sees color. So, young Michael Brown walked down the street in a country that for the most part is organized and structured to ensure his failure. Mothers are forced to teach their black children not to stand up for their rights but rather to submit quickly and quietly no matter how unreasonable the demands placed upon them. The margin for error for black youths dealing with the police is razor thin in a way that it isn’t for white youths. One mistake it seems is justification for taking a black life, whereas violent white youths are treated as troubled or mentally ill and every effort is made to save their lives.

In particular, in this case, we are fed excuses of Michael Brown being a robber and and a violent threat—all without a weapon. The bottom line is that all of those excuses are just that—excuses. Even if you accept all these circumstances as true, the officer still had no right to gun him down. You can’t chase after someone and call it self-defense. Despite his purported fears, as a supposedly trained professional, Officer Wilson had the responsibility to de-escalate the situation. He did not have the right to fire 12 shots at an unarmed individual.

The aftermath is one of anguish, rage, and, yes, violence. As the toll rises, suffering a house of cards built on oppression and inequality becomes that much more difficult. If America is to rise, it must do so united. All people in this country need to stand up when injustice occurs. Michael Brown’s death is not merely a black tragedy; it is an American one. Yet, as I sit here, I am beginning to believe that a truly United States is beyond reach. Perhaps the foundation is so corroded by racism, hate, and apathy that it is beyond repair.

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