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Sunday, August 24, 2014

An Outsider to Ferguson

My thoughts on what happened in Ferguson:

I wasn't there.

All I can rely on is the media and the opinions of people who know parts of what happened.

The media is biased. No matter the source ... there is bias. As long as human beings run media, there will be bias.

I don't know how Mike Brown behaved that night. I don't deny that he was a nice boy, who was loved, who loved, who had a bright future ahead of him. If he was behaving in a manner that suggested he might have a weapon, if I had been the law enforcement officer at the scene, I may have reacted the same way Darren Wilson did. Darren Wilson was the trained expert on the scene -- not me ... not you. I doubt he relishes in what happened ... but I don't know because I'm not Darren Wilson. But I will go on record as stating that I doubt he likes it. I highly doubt that Darren Wilson is a "thug cop," but I know that thug cops exist and that they make good cops' job a lot harder, because once someone encounters a bad cop, I can only imagine that it's hard for that person (and then that person's children, and that person's children's children -- and thus a cultural belief is formed) to NOT view every single man or woman in a uniform as the enemy.

Luckily, I've not encountered any bad cops in my lifetime, but I carry a privilege with me, on my face and in my mind. My face is white, and so is my mind -- I don't ever have to think about IT ("it" being that someone might suspect me of something of which I am not guilty, simply because of the color or my skin) -- that's my privilege. I was born with it. I didn't ask for it, but it's there. To deny it is naive. To deny it is disrespectful to everyone who wasn't born with it. I can't give that privilege away, nor, in all honesty would I want to. I don't know that I'm strong enough to live without that privilege.

No matter what -- the powerful response to Mike Brown's death indicates that Ferguson, PRIOR to the shooting of Mike Brown was at a tipping point. To deny there is a problem, with the relationship that law enforcement has with the Ferguson public would just be plain naive. There is a lack of trust. There is a lack of respect. There have obviously been other incidents that caused the reaction to Mike Brown's shooting. It was not Mike Brown's shooting alone that caused these riots.

I am an outsider ... BIG TIME ... I don't watch enough of the news to even be a vicarious insider ... I am a white lady not too far away (geographically) from Ferguson, but nevertheless, my perspective is nothing more than that of a total outsider -- Ferguson is broken. Racism IS an issue there (and other places) in 2014. The relationship between law enforcement and the general public is broken there (and other places). And YES my race is relevant. And YES so is Mike Brown's. To say it is not is just a plain ostrich with its head in the sand response.

No matter what happened between Darren Wilson and Mike Brown ... no matter who was and was not at fault ... there is a problem that needs fixing and unfortunately someone had to die in order for that to become apparent enough to get national (and international) attention. You wouldn't think it would take that. But. It. Did. And that's just plain tragic.

My prayer is that everyone involved in this horrible tragedy -- even we outsiders -- take steps to right this wrong. At the very least, acknowledge that everyone involved -- even outsiders -- are responsible for making it right. 

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