A couple nights ago, a piece of Ferguson made an appearance in the actions of several students from an organization on campus called NRNH (No Race, No Hate). The students of all sizes, ethnicity, and colors dressed in all black and several donned signs that read things like “Black Lives Matter” before methodically screaming out the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” and then dropping to the ground. They lay there emulating death for only a few moments, but as I watched, I couldn’t help but feel numb…could all of these kids really become victims of a country that boasts freedom and equality for all?
Fast forward a couple days to my friend and I talking about police brutality and race and brainstorming ways to put an end to it, or at least hold cops accountable for their actions while we walked to campus. We came up with the idea of cameras that officers could don on their uniforms, and to us, it seemed like a sensible and realistic idea. A friend of a friend interjected our conversation with “I have to say something, my dad’s a police officer. Imagine how that would affect him!” to which I simply thought “So is my father and it wouldn’t affect either of them…unless they were doing something they wasn’t supposed to be.” But I kept silent as she pitched the argument that with all the gear officers wear, vest, gun, belt, etc. adding a camera to survey his actions would be “too much,” and besides, “the money that would be used to put the cameras into action could be spent on something much more important.”
Like what? Another bank, another road, another Walmart in a town where there’s one every five miles?
The issue of Ferguson and the protestors has been splashed all over the news, all over every website, and all over the faces of the people we interact with every day. It’s in the actions of students on universities, in the minds of businessmen, and it plagues the thought of citizens all over the world. As much as we try to numb ourselves to the events going on in Ferguson, it’s spreading faster than wildfire as more and more cases of police brutality appear. More people are dying, the KKK is whispering threats of action from the shadows of whatever bed they’ve been hiding under, and most of the world is sitting at home wondering just how far things will go, holding their breaths and hoping that this is just a “phase”, and that it will “go away.” But it won’t.
For a country that boasts so much freedom, there are still many people who do not have the rights that they should and who are fighting desperately for it. People are being killed, discriminated against, being brutalized and victimized on our televisions and the world and this generation aren’t just sitting by and remaining silent anymore. People are protesting, publicly expressing their outrage, and fighting for their neighbor while others are fighting against them. The country is divided between who said what, who did what, and ultimately what makes one life more valuable than another’s.
Does your life or your child’s life mean more or less than the Presidents? Does my black cousin’s life mean less than that of his white wife’s, and if so, where does that leave their bi-racial son? Who gets to live, and who gets to die, and in the heat of the moment, who gets to decide? In a country founded by people who were escaping persecution from their mother country and who fought for their rights and independence from said persecution, why is it justifiable to persecute others? We argue and bicker over the actions of a man, his past, and others perceptions of him but the reality is, regardless of whether Trayvon was a marijuana smoking thug or not, he was still a child. Regardless of whether Eric Garner was selling loosies or not, he had a move used against him that was banned in NYC and yet was still used to strangle him as he seemingly surrendered. Regardless of whether Mike Brown was hostile or not, he was shot several times and killed instead of apprehended and put into jail instead of a casket and people feel that those who did wrong against them were not justifiably held accountable for their actions.
I’m not saying that no crime should go unpunished but take a look at exactly what these crimes are and how they are being dealt with. Was there really a crime being committed, or was the crime simply the color of ones skin? We can never know for sure but what we can be sure of is the results of the actions taken.
Violence incites violence. That’s a fact, and though the protesters are peaceful now, how long will the peace last when men, women, and children are being shot down and killed? The women’s and civil rights movements, the marches and protests to establish gay rights (rights that a person had until they announced that they would love someone different than the norm btw); these have taken decades to establish and maintain before a change was made and the same goes for this current movement. The Ferguson, Garner, & Martin cases have ignited a new revolution where blacks are stepping up and fighting for their rights to be seen as equals. They’re fighting for fair justice and to feel okay instead of afraid whenever they see a police officers car behind them or anywhere else. They’re fighting to have the stigmas of being aggressive, irrational, and uneducated people lifted from them just as much as the Islamic fight to be seen as people other than terrorists, and they’re not alone. All over the world, people are standing up making their own voices heard. They’re screaming for justice for themselves and others and the world has no choice but to listen. So fight on, but do it right.
Change never comes easy but not all change requires violence to make a difference.
Writing by yours Truly. Featured Image: “James Cartmill holds an American Flag while protesting…” Credit goes to AP Photo/Noah Berger. From the article “Russian envoy: Ferguson shows US discrimination. (2014)” by Vladimir Isachenkov. http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2014/11/25/russian-envoy-ferguson-shows-us-discrimination
Other notable articles:
“Kamille Beard joins others at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza in Eugene”. Credit for the photo goes to AP Photo/The Register-Guard, Chris Pietsch. From the article “Protests against Ferguson decision grow across US (2014).” By Sadie Gurman. http://www.roanoke.com/news/nation/wire/protests-against-ferguson-decision-grow-across-us/image_148e9feb-17c7-5727-9dab-07b6e8972850.html
“Hands up.” From the article “Ferguson: Michael Brown Protesters Issue ’19 Rules of Engagement’ To Police.” as seen on the Inquisitor. http://www.inquisitr.com/tag/19-rules-of-engagement/
“Ferguson Nationwide Protests” credit goes to AP Photo/ The Indianapolis Star, Matt Detrich. From the article “Ferguson protests across U.S. range from peaceful to disruptive.” http://www.kpic.com/news/national/Ferguson-protests-across-US-range-from-peaceful-to-disruptive-283975501.html?tab=gallery&img=14
“Black Lives Matter” taken from HomeTownBetty who gives credit to “International Business Times” http://hometownbetty.com/art-protest-movement/
“Protestors demonstrate against police violence” credit goes tot Jim Young/REUTERS as seen on the article “Federal autopsy released in Ferguson shooting. 2014) by Alan Scher Zagier. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/federal-autopsy-released-in-ferguson-shooting/ar-BBgvr6g?ocid=ansnewap11