Saturday, October 11, 2014

Why #FergusonOctober

I am sitting in the dark of my dining room, preparing my heart, mind, and soul to engage in protest during #FergusonOctober.

I attended training this past Thursday night as a de-escalator, an appropriate role for this Jones Generation Mama who benefitted from the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and the relative non-movement of my late 80s-90s young adulthood, when live was discovering me and I was enjoying the spoils of a Clinton Presidency in a city I adored.

Something happened to the promise of the dream.

As a woman who celebrated a jubilee birthday this year, the symbolism was not lost on me

I know my parents were not anticipating that I would be the adult, the elder, watching, engaging, and talking with the young Millennials, my children, on the front lines of hate in the city of my birth.

The symbolism of so many born during Freedom Summer who are now organizing, supporting, and advising the young ones leading Freedom Fall.  I can not let the comfort of my well educated, middle class life in teh suburbs separate me from the message they have been sending.

August 9th interrupted a lot of lives.

First and foremost the life of Mike Brown, Jr. A big, May birthday boy who had just turned 18 right before graduating high school, who was just visiting his grandmother before he was to make his mother's heart proud again and start college on that Monday.

His life was interrupted.

His mother and father and stepmother and stepfather and entire extended family had their lives interrupted on that hot, steamy, St. Louis August Saturday.

The community where he was visiting had their lives interrupted as mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, babies had the indelible image of his body and blood sprawled out in the middle of the street for four long hours while the police refused to give him end of life care or the dignity of covering him up.

The extended community of young people had their lives interrupted when they realized that if their cry wasn't heard they would be next, that this would never end that the lost voices had to be heard and the millennial generation had to show the rest of us that this was their reality and they were not afraid to stand in the face of the blue line of hatred, oppression, and murder.

The lives of the region were interrupted as the whites had to face the uncomfortable truth of their unearned privilege and complicit acts in a system that kept the black in the region in a subservient state = even those well educated middle class ones did not enjoy the same opportunity in this gateway city.

It is against this backdrop that the voices have been ringing out, the pictures, tweets, posts, lifestreams, complete disruption of life has been ringing out because in the land of the free and he home of he brave, an apartheid suburb is not supposed to exit.

This is a weekend of resistance and social justice ation of engaging in what democracy looks like, in reminding the country that the stolen lives at the end of a policeman's bullet is the shame of the nation.

It is against this backdrop that I posted two notes in response to those white friends and colleagues who were tired of hearing about it or engaged in the often used defense of "I'm not racist" but they fail to recognize that their silence is indeed racialized as well as unearned white privilege that allows them to ignore the things happening 20 miles north or 17 miles west of their white, safe, suburb.

Response One:
Black Lives Matter, period.
To all my white friends and family who are uncomfortable when I say that, who have been uncomfortable in me posting almost daily about the right of my black sons and daughters to live, to stare down your privilege that automatically criminalizes us when we walk out the door, if this makes you uncomfortable because we, black people, are united, and speaking up and out about the continuous murder or disregard of our persons by those who are supposed to serve and protect, if our highlighting that there is no such thing as black on black crime as an excuse for murdering us in our walk, that whites kill whites at a higher rate, that whites use drugs at a higher rate, that whites can jaywalk or eat a sandwich they purchased without being murdered, then too bad. With all humility and love in me, too freaking bad because the lives of my sons and daughters matter, my beautiful daughter who was called a monkey by your white sons while walking down the public street in her hometown, too bad.
We know that not all of you are racists, but all of you benefit from a racialized system that crimanilize us and demean us and otherize us daily, that gave my husband a $300 ticket that we could afford to pay but that put warrants and outrageous fees on our brothers in the county who can not pay because your white dominated system in this city will not hire us. Too bad if this makes you uncomfortable, if you are uncomfortable, maybe you will take the blinders off and see this deep injustice that his happening right under noses in the neighborhoods and counties you fled for a white out so you would feel safe because the media teaches you that blacks must be scary, right? I love my white daughters and white daughter-in-law and all the white people in my immediate family and circles, and guess what, I also love my black husband and my black sons and black daughters and black friends and I honor their right to life that you (collective white people) get to take for granted every day you wake up.
If you are uncomfortable because i have put everything on hold since Mike Brown was murdered and used the tool I have to talk about it and write about it, imagine how uncomfortable Mike Brown, Sr. and Lesly McSpadden were when they had to see their 18 year old baby sprawled out in the middle of the street like a dog. It was a public lynching and that is something that white St. Louis has to acknowledge and deal with it.
The tears and screams that interrupt your ball games and symphony events and restaurant runs are the tears and screams of a people who are tired of being killed or profiled in the city they call home. All across this nation we are speaking up and exposing. so if this makes you uncomfortable, as I said before, I say again, I invite you to unfriend me, to not communicate with me, to do what some have done and simply sat back silently and acknowledged my right to protest in all the ways this fifty year old well educated mother knows how to do because Black Lives Matter.
The lives of so many people lost matter, the lives of so many discriminated against matter, the lives of black people matter. We matter.

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