In the Wake of Ferguson: Use Your Anger to Make a Difference11/28/2014
by Kioshana LaCount The last time I went to visit my grandmother, she asked me when I was going ...
by Kioshana LaCount
The last time I went to visit my grandmother, she asked me when I was going to have children. Instinctively, I hesitated, before finally smiling and responding with a non-committal, “I’ll have some when I’m ready, Bigmama.”
The idea of having children is something I’ve often thought about, but never been able to fully commit to. I’ve been told that I’ll eventually grow out of that—my “biological clock” will start ticking eventually and that I’ll feel the urge to procreate.
Like much of the country, I tuned in to CNN tonight, watching with rapt attention as Prosecutor Robert McColloch set the stage for the biggest round of legal f*ckery we’ve seen since George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Trayvon Martin.
And since then, I’ve watched the mainstream media vilify the people of Ferguson who have taken a justifiably angry stance against the news that Darren Wilson will not be indicted on charges for the murder of Michael Brown. I’m watching as the same police who are sworn to protect and serve the people of this community deliver tear gas and flash bombs into large groups of protesters under the guise of “unlawful assembly.” I’m listening as the news calls these protesters “knuckleheads” because they refuse to stand down in the face of this grave injustice, and I’m thinking…
Every day of my life is devoted to the cause of advancing the place of Brown and Black people in the United States. Every day of my life, I work toward assisting at-risk, inner city youth make a difference in their lives and the lives of their families by obtaining their high school diploma, getting a trade/skill, and making something of themselves. Every day, I talk to kids who look like Michael Brown and I sell them the dream: if they will do the responsible thing for themselves, then their lives will be better for it.
I’m crying tonight because I’m wondering if that’s true any more.
I was raised to be a respectful child—to behave well, to be deferential to authority, to be smart and articulate and assertive, but not overly aggressive. We tell our children that respectability is what they should strive for. If we demonstrate that we are not the savages the world would have us believe we are, then we have a chance in this life to do something better.
But is that really true? Does our respectability offer any more safety than how the people in power interpret stereotypical thug/n*gga antics?
The answer is no. It does not.
Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Amadou Diallo. Eric Garner. Jonathan Ferrell. Renisha McBride. Sean Bell. Jordan Davis.
The list goes on and on and on and on into perpetuity. The list grows longer even now as I type this, and I know that it will continue.
This country was built on the backs of my ancestors and the ground is soaked with their blood. You would think white folks would be grateful, but the truth is that Black people in this country have never been more than 3/5 human, and this nation has truly #neverlovedus.
I grieve for Mike Brown. I grieve for his parents, and for the opportunities that are lost to him now. I grieve for that boy, and I feel an overwhelming sense of love and loss for a kid I’ve never met… because he’s still mine, and the truth is, I meet Michael Brown every day.
Michael Brown is the young man I did a home visit with, and who didn’t want to listen when his mother sat beside me telling him he has one more chance to get it together before she sends him to live with his father.
Michael Brown is the kid I talked with for over an hour, as he told me why he wanted to enter into my program and outlined his plans and goals for the future.
Michael Brown is the girl who called me recently, so excited that her first week on her new job went well and telling me she’s ready to start college in the spring.
Michael Brown is all of these young people. Michael Brown is all of us.
Michael Brown is every single person who is a member of the Black community in the United States of America, and we need to realize that we have a duty to save all of the other Michael Browns in our midst.
We have been lulled to sleep by the deceptive lie that tells us that because we can eat at the lunch counter and use the front door—instead of the “colored” entrance on the side of the building—that we’ve achieved something. Our children can sit beside the white children at school now. There’s a Brown man posing as a figurehead running this allegedly great nation, so we’ve decided that this is now a “post-racial” America and that racism no longer exists.
We need to wake up.
Every 28 hours in the United States a Black person is killed by a police officer. We live in a country where it is considered a justifiable use of force to shoot an unarmed kid in the face (twice) as he advances with his hands up in the air, surrender style.
Last year the Supreme Court completely gutted the Constitutional amendment granting and protecting our right to vote… but some of y’all don’t care.
All over the nation, police departments are utilizing surplus military equipment (drones, tanks, tear gas, etc.) to keep us all in line… but some of y’all don’t care.
The federal government uses statistics from third grade students to determine how many new jail cells need to be built—instead of investing that money into figuring out how to keep those kids from becoming offenders in the first place… but some of y’all don’t care.
What is it going to take to make us wake up? What is it going to take for us to realize that if we are waiting on them to make things better for us, we are going to be waiting forever?
I hope y’all are mad. I hope you’re angry and sick and fed up. I hope you’re saying that you’re tired of this shit and that you aren’t going to deal with it any more.
And I hope you use that anger to make a difference.
I hope you’re mad enough to go mentor a kid who looks like you and who comes from your hood. I hope you’re mad enough to start patronizing Black-owned businesses, even if the prices are higher than Walmart. Better yet, I hope you start one. I hope you’re mad enough to run for local office so that you can make a real difference in your community.
But mostly I hope you’re mad enough to #staywoke in the midst of this madness. Our young people are the future of our community… and they’re being killed off one by one each day.
I haven’t brought kids into this world yet because I already spend my days worrying about the ones already here. I pray for these kids and I grieve for these kids and I wonder if there’s any place in the world that truly loves these kids.
I hope you’re angry enough not to let Michael Brown’s death be in vain. We can stop this – together. We can change this – together.
We must, otherwise we are all going to burn – together.
Kioshana LaCount is a 20-something Southern Belle currently living in the Midwest. She makes a living by assisting young people in obtaining the skills they need to become responsible, productive citizens. In her free time she writes, crafts, and advocates. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or lostinthesauceblog.wordpress.com.