Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reflections on the Last 24 Hours...

I'm trying really, really hard to confront my feelings honestly.

And see, just by framing it there, I'm already setting myself up for disaster.  "Confront" already implies a battle.  A war with myself on an issue.  So maybe that's the wrong way to frame it, because I'm not at war with myself at all.  I know exactly where I stand.  It's just everyone else I have a problem with.

I haven't blogged anything since April (my life has been stupid busy lately, on top of the not-at-all-secret project that I'm working on), and actually, I have another post that I was going to put up today, that's been in the works for awhile.  But then last night happened, and honestly?  I don't think I'm ready to post it today*, because there's been enough  terrible bullshit after the grand jury announced it's decision in Ferguson.  And I think I need to talk about that.

Ferguson.  My generation's Watts (or something).  And it's all so goddamn predictable, and that's one of the saddest parts for me.  Not the saddest part, because holy shit, (white) cops murdering black teenagers for no reason (except they're black) is clearly way more important and horrible than however I feel (Jesus, how is that even up for debate?).  I can't pretend to actually know how Watts compares- I wasn't alive in 1965, and, oh, yeah, I'm a white dude, how the fuck should I know how to understand the black experience?  I can't, so I won't try, but I'm still sad and angry, and doing my best not to break down in my office right now.

Because I'm bombarded with facebook pages and friend's comments that I find so ignorant right now, and all I want to do is scream at people- some of whom I care very much for.  And they're just so wrong, and so casually racist, and I'm having trouble dealing with it, and OH MY GOD HOW I FEEL DOESN'T MATTER ONE BIT, BECAUSE JESUS FUCKING CHRIST ANOTHER WHITE GUY IS GETTING AWAY WITH MURDERING A BLACK KID!!!!
And I just... I can't deal.  And maybe I shouldn't, because we're all fucked by the system, or whatever.  It's so predictable, and so sad.  And I don't know what to do except to write about it.  Because that's what I do.  And maybe I can persuade some of my "friends" to reexamine things.  Maybe not, who's to say?

I was 7 years old the first time I saw police brutality in action against an innocent teenager.  Okay, actually, innocent isn't the right word, he'd just stolen some potato chips from a grocery story (god forbid).  Perhaps in the cop's mind that warranted the shots that were fired, even if he had confused that teenager for a different perp.  In the policeman's mind, maybe "Shoot first" makes sense, at least in this country (For some reason, most of Europe seems horrified by the US's public servants' penchant for sending bullets firing).  This was, for me, a very informative experience.  So, no, I won't pretend I'm neutral.  I've never trusted the police, I doubt I ever will, and I say that as a white middle class male.  I can't imagine how much worse it must be for people who aren't the most privileged class of people in this country.  Also, fuck you, no I won't stop saying this, but my opinions don't matter, because COPS KEEP KILLING BLACK PEOPLE JUST FOR BEING BLACK!

And I could reduce that, say "Cops keep killing people just for being ..." but that's not actually honest.  You can look up the stats, that's what Google is for.  Michael Brown.  Eric Gardner.  Kimani Gray.  Kendrec McDade.  Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.  Tamir Rice.  Guys, this isn't hard to find out.  Akai Gurley.  No, for real, all you have to do is google "black people killed by police". John Crawford.  Actually, just type "black people k-" and Google literally fills in the rest for you.  Ezell Ford.  That's how fucking obvious this shit is.  Kajieme Powell.  This list could literally just go on and on.

Yes, I'm biased against the police.  I'm the first person to admit that.  But holy shit, is it really that hard to see that there's a problem here?

"Because, yeah, no one really listens."
That's how Film Critic Hulk put it in his brilliant essay on Do The Right Thing after Brown's murder this summer (and oh my god, have you seen Do The Right Thing?  It's fucking brilliant, absolutely necessary viewing!).  Because it's hardly like Mike Brown, Darren Wilson, and Ferguson, Missouri is an isolated incident.  This isn't about any one person or event.  This is about all of us, our society.  We killed Michael Brown for being a black teenager in America, and then we let Wilson off the hook for it.  That's why Ferguson is rioting again.  That's the real reason for all of this, and if you don't understand that, then yeah, I guess I can see why you're so upset about all those (mostly black) people acting up around the country.  You don't understand that we are ALL responsible for this.

All those names I listed before, and everyone I didn't list?  Well, the cops who killed them were literally the paid representatives of us, "We, the people".  If we don't hold them responsible, then we're saying what they did is okay.  Cops are far more likely to get away with horrible crimes than civilians, that's just the math.

And so no, no one is surprised that Darren Wilson is getting away with murder unpunished.  No one was surprised when George Zimmerman got off for killing Trayvon Martin either, and he wasn't even an actual cop, so of course Wilson gets off.  We can be sad, or offended, or (if somehow you still don't get the god damn point) happy about it.  But NO ONE is surprised.  This is America.  This is what happens.

And I can't do anything but reflect on how awful it is, and know that my feelings don't matter.  I can't fix this, because this is us.  Michael Brown is still dead, like all the others; his family mourns; his community mourns; and so many people are angry at other people for being angry and I don't know what to say.

Nothing changes the fact that another teenager died for nothing.

"Is it wrong for people to riot?" Sure, but that's not- "Is it so wrong to call for peace?" No, but again- "Why can't they just hold a vigil or whatever?" OH SHUT THE FUCK UP. Maybe instead of asking why they're protesting, you should consider what they're protesting about.  Maybe you should ask yourself why it's okay for a cop to gun down a teenager.  Maybe YOU need to check your racism at the door.  My god, I am so sick and tired of listening to white people who don't understand their own white panic.  I'm sick of it, and I don't know how else to say it.  Also, AGAIN, my opinion, just like theirs, is the least important part of this, because COPS KEEP KILLING BLACK PEOPLE FOR BEING BLACK.

Nobody thinks that the protests in Ferguson and around the country are happy nice times.  Not the protesters, not Brown's family, not Governor Jay Nixon or his National Guard, nobody.  But they're a response to a systemic problem that we continue to ignore.  The awful inevitability of Ferguson. It's appalling.  And it just keeps happening, because WE let it.  That's on all of us.

Again, I'm quoting that review, but it's the honest, strongest truth.  "It's impossible to do the right thing when no one seems to care when the wrong things are done to you.  It's impossible to do the right thing when no one listens."


*= Give it a day or two, I still intend on publishing it very soon.  Even though it may offend people, well... tough titties?