Many details about the violent death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, remain unclear. What is beyond doubt is the intensity of reactions to this story — in the media and in neighborhoods all over the US (and beyond). Here are ten personal perspectives on this event and its aftermath, from writers representing a diverse cross-section of the WordPress.com community.
Writer and scholar Keguro Macharia reacts with his usual incisiveness to one of the signature chants of post-Ferguson protests :
If “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” is an expression of “humanity,” as one tweet has it, we must ask for whom that humanity is available. In fact, the insistent repetition of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” by black bodies across the U.S. might offer a less promising narrative: it might suggest the banality with which black life forms can never gain access to the vernaculars of the human.
I’ve been on mental overload as of late, as many things around me have inspired me to act. What this typically looks like for me is that something will happen (such as the recent occurrences in Ferguson) that will lead me to develop loads of ideas. Some of those ideas actually make it to the production stage, where at minimum a gmail account is created – and if I’m feeling particularly motivated a domain name will be reserved on godaddy. I’ll proceed to share these ideas with others, and use the support from others (or sometimes the lack thereof) to continue to fuel the developing stages of the new project. But over time, things seem to change and that exciting new idea becomes less exciting as life settles in, time and/or resources become limited, and the awesome reality that I originally envisioned seems farther and farther away. That idea eventually fades into the background, only to be replaced by a new idea, and then the process repeats itself. I had a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment on the drive into work this morning as another idea managed to seep its way into my brain. Only this time, the initial response wasn’t excitement as usual. No this time I became noticeably angry and frustrated that I keep having ideas, many of them I believe to be great, but haven’t been able to see many of them through.
Then I came across an article on one of my favorite online spaces (Clutch Magazine) which featured the above graphic tee, and I was reminded that greatness takes time and effort. While I believed I had (and still have) great ideas, I was allowing impatience to steal time away from working at my ideas and allowing them to develop. So I’ve issued myself a challenge, and that is to change my strategy and to work smarter (and more patiently) towards achieving my goals. This idea-generator that I call a brain will be put into good use, even if what it produces does not quite reach Oprah level success. I will be perfectly content strategically working on ideas that are most important to me, and hopefully while inspiring others to do the same 🙂
My intentions were to write a well thought out and researched piece about the current situation in Ferguson, MO that resulted from the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Jr. I have been following the story closely since the very beginning and have related to the passion felt by those seeking justice.
But as I sat down to write, the coherency that I envisioned seemed to be hindered by the the combination of sadness and anger that I feel, and have felt every time a story like this one is put into the forefront. For a young man who was soon to attend college, and who had dreams of starting his own business. A young man who I’m sure wasn’t perfect, but did not deserve to die on August 9th.
This incident and ones similar to it continue to highlight the racial divide in this county. As much as we would like to believe that America is this utopian melting pot, we still have a long way to go before true equality is established.
I don’t know what the solution should be, which is extremely frustrating for my solution-oriented brain. But if nothing else I hope that the media attention that this case is receiving causes each of us to examine ourselves and how best we can support the change we wish to see.
What racially-motivated ideas/perceptions do I hold and how do those ideas/ perceptions manifest?
What might I be doing better to promote equality for all individuals, independent of race/ethnicity?
How can I help to create a society where individuals aren’t judged based on the color of their skin?
In what individual way can I contribute to the passing of legislature that supports a just and equitable society?
The eternal optimist in me continues to believe that change is possible, so long as I make it my personal responsibility to support change through my thoughts, words and actions.
Despite its release in 1971, the words of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On?” still hold true today. One line from that song really stood out to me: “For only love can conquer hate.” Not only do I want to support change through my thoughts, words and actions, but I desire that unconditional love be the foundation upon which change occurs.
This year has been a year of tremendous change for me. I have transitioned to living in a renovation project (which for me has been analogous to camping indoors) and have taught myself to drive a stick shift beater. Despite my initial dislike of cats, I suddenly became the owner of two after a mouse sighting in my home (…a tad overly dramatic I know, but I never saw a mouse again!) and quickly came to love my kitties 🙂 That love was short lived, however, as I had to rehome my pets (the kitties and my dog Lundy) a few short months later after getting an exciting job opportunity that entailed a cross-country move to a state that I had never visited until recently: Wisconsin.
Saturday morn in downtown Madison = Farmer’s Market on steroids
A far cry from Richmond Virginia, I have had to provide a decent amount of explanation as to why I would consider a move to the midwest. But more importantly, I had to say goodbye to the wonderful people (one of whom faked proposed to me) I have met and have come to love during my decade run in Virginia’s Cap City. I now find myself in a new state, meeting new people, taking on new challenges, and learning a new side to myself in the process. I’ve ventured out and traveled solo, stayed in a hostel, and have come to appreciate the little things that make up the rich human experience. Throughout this entire process, I now understand that the point of it all is that purpose will always connect to right people, places, and things. This is an exciting new journey for me, one that is bittersweet but filled with new possibilities. I will continue to document life as it unfolds right here – same Bat Time, same Bat Channel! Until next time 😉