What a crazy, deeply saddening, shocking, two days its been. Yesterday as the events in Ferguson unfolded, I was again and again horrified. I hung my head as I watched the news come forward, I was mortified to witness the kind of deeply structural racism and white supremacy that plagues our system returned the decision on Darren Wilson. Mike Brown’s killer, Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted. Mike Brown, a child. A child who was murdered by a police officer. Black lives matter. Black youth matter. Black voices in the center of this conversation, leading this conversation matter. I sat in JJ Bean Coffee in Vancouver and wished I was surrounded by Americans who could together with me, lament the extraordinary distress we are experiencing. Instead I came home. I watched, riveted, as my Facebook feed filled with posts.
After all, how could you not feel heartbroken? How could your eyes not fill with tears? How could you not take to the streets?
This morning, I posted on FB, a list of ways white folks can be allies. Allies, because black lives are at the center of this fight. And white voices and people need to be here too, and they need to make support rings and rings and rings around the black lives, people, communities, and youth at the center, and we need to listen-not speak, and we need to get our friends and families to show up- not take over, and we need to hold the stories and people at the center carefully-and to protect those stories from danger and violence because they are the stories at the center, the lives and communities at the center, and we need to apologize when we f*ck up, and we need to learn about, and then refuse and reject white supremacy- we must. We’ve got to be allies. Now more than ever.
And two people- my aunt, and a young man I went to middle/high school with- attacked me. They railed against the Mike Brown case being about racism. They put themselves at the center of the debate, asking “But what about me? The system isn’t fair to me and I’m white!,” they refused to accept the black people saying loudly, clearly “We are experiencing racism” (why can’t we just BELIEVE people?) and they went so far to say that violence- a violent response to the violent state of affairs-
—- you know what? I actually cannot finish this sentence. I’m sorry. I’m not going to subject you, or anyone else, to what those folks said. Suffice to say, I took screen-shots and filed them away because it was so absolutely horrendous, revolting, racist, and reeking of white supremacy. It made me sick to my stomach. I asked these people to stop commenting. More than once. I asked them to stop hikacking my status. They responded only by commenting more, more, and more. My friends asked them to stop, responded to their ridiculousness, sent me messages of love and support. After I’d asked enough times, and when I simply could not take anymore, I de-friended them. I want my Facebook to be safe for people of color, to be safe for women, to be safe for queers, to be safe for feminists, and I just can’t have and don’t want to expose myself to or my community to comments that are so rooted in white supremacy. It’s not safe for me, it’s not safe for my community, it’s not safe for my family, and it’s definitely not safe for my country.
And so I am sad. I am sad people cannot think carefully, critically, caringly, about what is happening in America, Under Distress. I am sad Mike Brown is gone, and I am sad the USA just told his mama that his death was his own fault. What kind of a thing is that to say to a mother, people? What kind of a thing? Soon enough, Sam and I will be parents to a child. A child who will not be white. I will become a white mother parenting a brown child. And the institutional white supremacy is terrifying, angering, and violent.
So no, I don’t condone violence. But right now, there’s not very many ways to respond to this violent system, this system that kills, this system that murders a boy and lets his killer walk without being indicted, this system that is horribly, utterly broken. People in power- mostly white people- enact their violence quietly- like by redrawing voter lines to divide communities of color and weaken their votes and furnishing schools with history books that tell of certain colonial relationships and leave others out. There’s not a lot of non-violent ways for communities to respond to state sanctioned violence right now.
Tonight, my heart aches. I am gutted. I am angry. I feel violent. I have had enough. Enough ruining the environment and causing cancer. Enough police killing young black men. Enough, enough, enough.