In the aftermath of the St. Louis County grand jury's decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, I'm not so sure.
At the very least, I see no clear path to a better conversation on race, class, privilege and the abuse of power.
Institutional racism doesn't still just exist, it thrives but there are so many people who don't see it that way, who will deny it without pause.
There are so many people--way too many fucking people--who will wholesale accept the official version of this story, despite so many conflicting accounts to the contrary. Despite physical evidence to the contrary.
Those people will continue to not just say that Wilson was justified in shooting an 18-year-old kid, but that Brown essentially got what he deserved. I'm not making this shit up. I've read it more than once on Facebook, on Twitter, on Huffington Post, in the comments section of so many online news sources.
Those people will say that no trial was needed. That Michael Brown doesn't need anyone to defend his life, much less question his death.
Those people will say that racism is a myth. Or, at the very least, over-blown.
I can't even begin to list the upsetting things I've read online today. Some of them written by people I know. Some of those words are horrible and vile. Others are simply ignorant, willfully or otherwise. I'm still trying to decide which category (horrible and vile vs. ignorant) is more heartbreaking.
And I don't even want to get started on the riots. If you think the riots are the problem here, you clearly haven't been paying attention to the story--to the stories--that led up to them.
Meanwhile, I'm grateful for those who are still out on the streets protesting, making their voices heard. I'm thankful for those who refuse to let Michael Brown's life fade into obscurity. For those who refuse to let him become just another statistic.
I'm grateful for those who refuse to accept the status quo, the official version of a story.
Those are the people who will and do make change possible.
When I was 16 I was picked up for shoplifting, among other things, some makeup from my neighborhood grocery store.
It was about 8 p.m. at night when the police were called and I was led out of the store to a squad car. I wasn't arrested exactly and there were no handcuffs. Instead the police officer lectured me on just how badly I had let down my mother. On just how foolish my choices were.
The police drove to the hospital where my mother worked the swing shift as a nurse and then walked me up to her floor and left me there in her care, safe. Unharmed.
Later, I had to attend juvenile court and family therapy. I also was required to pay restitution and, essentially, I was on a probation of sorts until I turned 18.
I didn't realize then just how lucky I was to be white, to be female, to be suburban, to be middle-class, to be privileged in so many ways.
I'm not, in a million years, trying to make this about me or compare myself to Michael Brown but I couldn't help but think of that night as I watched as St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announce that a St. Louis grand jury had declined to indict officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting that left the 18-year-old dead.
As a white suburban teenage girl, I was upset and embarrassed but not once did I fear for my safety, for my life.
Please don't tell me this isn't about race. Of course it's not just about race--it's also about socioeconomic status, It's about the unchecked abuse of power--but it is, definitely and without question, also about race. It is about deeply inherent, institutional racism. It is about a fear of young black men. It is, arguably, about just how dark Michael Brown's skin happened to be.
Tonight, my feelings have alternated between anger and resignation, shock and disbelief. Some of that disbelief, by the way, is directed at those in my Facebook and Twitter feed who feel the need to announce to everyone else that they "don't care" about the announcement. That people should just "go inside" in Ferguson. That, "obviously," there was no evidence to indict Wilson (despite McCulloch's own bumbling explanation that there were many "conflicting witness reports.")
They point to that razor burn of an "injury" on Wilson's face as proof that Brown, who was unarmed, got what he deserved: Twelve shots fired. Twelve shots in "self-defense."
Twelve shots. For allegedly shoplifting from a convenience store. For allegedly assaulting a police officer. This is the version of the truth that we're being told to accept, despite many, many eyewitness accounts to the contrary.
Twelve shots for being a young black man in America.
Sorry for all these lame-ass posts lately but I seem to have caught Cory's cold and, frankly, it's taking every bit of energy I have to even think about this.
That said, I've been thinking a lot about returning to my book--I was supposed to do NaNoWriMo after all but opted for the "easier" NaBloPoMo because of all of our November travel.
I've found it takes awhile to gear up to write after taking a few weeks or months off. At least for me.
Last year I made a playlist for my book. At the time my book had this definite 80s thing going on but more recently both its story and its vibe have changed significantly.
When i first started writing this book it had a different plot and title. It also had this very specific Madonna thing going on. Now the book has a new title, less of a plot altogether and although Madonna still factors a little, the whole aesthetic is just markedly different. The Madonna thing, I guess, reflected my own freshman-year love for her when I was in high school. This was a woman who owned (still does) her sexuality. She was sexy but on her own terms. That was kind of rare in pop music in 1984.
Anyway the playlist now, like the novel, is something of a work-in-progress. At least I don't have to workshop it or try to find it an agent.
Anyway, it's constantly changing but still, in a way, reflects the story from start to finish. Maybe you can give it a listen and tell me what the hell to do next.