Many think the issues in Ferguson are just about officer Darren Wilson not being indicted on charges of murder for the death of Michael Brown. For some that is the reason. For many others it is a powder keg that has exploded because of racial injustice on a daily basis. It is no secret that Michael Brown in some way broke the law. Criminals need to be prosecuted right? How many criminals have you seen do worse things than he and end up still alive but just on the other side of a jail cell. The issue here is about plain injustice.
How many times will we think it is ok to deem the value of a black man’s life less than any other race’s life? It seems that in reality the only value placed on the life of a black man was when he was sold as a slave. Since slavery is no longer legal in the United States, what use is he? We believe he doesn’t marry. We believe he hates his women. We believe he doesn’t take care of his responsibility with his children. We believe he’s lazy and wants a handout. So if that is all true, then what value does he have? Why would anyone treat him better than a common dog on the street?
The reality is that those things are not true. I love my black brothers. I love my black sons and I am in love with my black man. Did I choose to love them because they were black? No, I simply chose to embrace them and all that comes with them. My man is a man first and black second! My sons are future legends first and black second. My brothers are the strength of the family first and black second.
So what does this have to do with Ferguson? Ferguson can be any town in the United States. It could be your town next. It is filled with a population that has about 70% African Americans who are tired, frustrated and pissed the hell off at the injustice they see every day. It is filled with some people who simply gave up because what they saw every day was a box meant to keep them captive where they had not rights or control over their own lives. Some say that is an excuse. For those who say that, it is usually because they’ve never experienced this type of life. For those who did experience it and got out, in no way should you ever forget because you my dear were one of the lucky ones.
I didn’t grow up in a Ferguson but know plenty who did. When people live in fear every day caged like rats in some instances under the watchful eye of those just waiting for them to make a mistake it causes a contagion…a contagion that spreads like wildfire under the right circumstances. When people feel frustrated and helpless they don’t always make the right choices. I once heard someone say “why do they always take the hard road.” I dare to say back “how do you know they see two roads.” From the outside looking in, it is easy for us to decide what is best for Ferguson. Without living there and owning what they have to deal with every day our lens is tainted.
I don’t agree that rioting and tearing up where you live is the answer. Instead I believe in fighting with our dollars. So what happens when you have no dollars to fight with? You may very well become smack dab in the middle of a powder keg in your own city somewhere under the right conditions.
My prayer for Ferguson is that they find peace an healing. My business partner and I even created a campaign #19DaysOfHealing to help one community at a time begin the hard road to restoration. It will take many initiatives like this one to get people to a place where they feel both empowered and trustful of those around them. Until then, before you judge those in Ferguson, understand where they are, where they’ve been and he capacity for frustration, anger and helplessness they’ve endured.