During the height of protests in Ferguson, Missouri I wrote the piece below. I find it fitting to share it again as so many non-melanated and melanated folk alike are up in arms with Beyonce for: 1. Celebrating the amazingness and strength of Black culture, and 2. honoring the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Your anger is not only unjustified, but also deeply rooted a lack of understanding. Black power is not equivalent to white supremacy; Just as self-defense does not make the attacked the brute–that is a position the offender cannot relinquish.
As the recent Justice Department lawsuit against the police in Ferguson demonstrates, this issue is not resolved and is still symbolic of tensions that have yet to be resolved on how collectively law enforcement interacts with and over penalizes Black Americans. http://http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/09/us/ferguson-justice-department-agreement-vote/index.html
Research. Reflect. Discuss. Write. This is generally the process that I undergo before I compose a piece. The last two steps are sometimes interchangeable, but the first two never are. Before I open my mouth to discuss anything, I like to research and gather my stance and ideas on a particular situation. What has led up to it and why it’s happening; Ferguson, Missouri was no different.
From what I feel, from what I see, from what I know…people are just tired. Tired of being misunderstood. Tired of being mistreated. Tired of being ignored. Tired of being disrespected. Tired of being considered less than. Tired of being counted out. Tired of being murdered. Tired of being tired. Tired of funerals. Tired of tears. Tired of pain. JUST TIRED. Many will argue that anger and violence are not the appropriate responses, but I will have to willingly disagree. I do not believe that passive resistance to active anger is the response needed for immediate change. It can rightfully be argued that passive resistance over a long period of time has brought about lasting change, and that is not to be negated. However, I am not here to argue about which approach is better, but to analyze and discuss what is already happening and how this energy is a good thing.
No Fly Zone. No cameras allowed. No freedom of press. This was the scene in Ferguson. Was there a war state or was it the “land of the free and home of the brave,” as exalted in our countries’ national anthem? From all I’ve read, and been able to interpret, the community was seeking answers to why Mike Brown, an unarmed teenager, was murdered by a police officer. However, instead of receiving appropriate responses, they were met with further disregard, disdain and disrespect. This consistent disregard for black life by those in authoritative roles can only go on for so long before the community reacts with anger and outrage. Their emotions were not wrong.
My major concern is that I do want there to be a lasting impact. When the violence ends-I want communications to begin and continue. What led up to this moment, and similar moments throughout the U.S.A.? Why is it that 50 years after the passing of The Civil Rights Act, Black people still feel that they’re fighting for justice and fair treatment under the law? Why is it that law enforcement is a cause of fear instead of assistance? The questions are many.
No, I do not believe that the reaction of citizens in Ferguson is unjustified. U.S. citizens, particularly people of color, are exhausted of the same outcomes. There is always a tipping point and we’ve been peeking for quite some time.
Ignoring the cries and actions of the residents is not the solution. Creating a police state that seeks to further silence and control is not the answer. There needs to be transparency, and cooperation, from the law enforcement agents and those in political roles to bring about change. It is time that law again remembers the state of a true republic, “a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.” You can not expect an upright people to bend forever or live on their knees; eventually the pendulum always swings.
“Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.” – Audre Lorde
Ms. Malcolm Hughes is the editor-in-chief of For Your Black? Conscious. She is a Chicago, IL native–from the city, not the suburbs–strategizing in Washington, D.C. She loves pizza and challenges you to find her a better pie than she gets back home. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter @fybconscious.