I have a lot of feelings about the protests symbolized by Ferguson. Watching TV news the day after the Grand Jury decision, I thought I’d had enough. Watching the news and way they sensationalized the riots showing images of black rage over and over again started to sicken me. But I hadn’t actually processed what happened, I had simply had enough of reconciliatory speech and coopted narratives. I was over TV news and the way that it made this about one boy and one officer distilling the complexities of race in the US, to an angry mob responding to one decision. I tried to find solace in like-minded friends and internet blogs. What I found were very eloquent ideas, but there were also public comments that completely missed the point.
Suddenly, if you thought black lives mattered, you have to explain why you aren’t saying “all lives matter”, if you made a point about black boys being murdered by the police, you also had to explain “black on black crime” I could go on and on.. What I want to create is a space opening up the pure emotion of the situation. We are all supposed to be logical and methodical, not overly emotional in academic debate. Here I would like to suspend academia for a moment. Though I do recommend you read the very well done: Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up.
I’m a pediatrician, I believe my calling is to help intercede on things that hurt and kill young people. Putting myself in the face of their pain and suffering can be intense. When a child doesn’t make it or is suffering I seek the comfort of other physicians who really understand that when I’m upset, it’s not about the details. Though I may perseverate over the each and every aspect of the case, what is really happening is that I am simply mourning the loss of a child. I am glad I have a space deal with those feelings. I have a lot of opinions about justice in America and about the dehumanization of black people and about internalized and externalized racism. But today I just want to say it hurts me that these people are dead. It hurts me that the overarching stereotypical fear of the black body is so intense that the question of whether someone “feared for their life” is not a question at all.
I am just as hurt that I can’t feel this pain without knowing someone is going to say something negative. That being angry about what’s happened is not allowed in some circles, and that there is so little empathy for the loss of life. It pisses me off that a broken store means more than this boy’s life to some people. It thoroughly pains me, that agents of the state are not rigorously held to the highest standards of judicial scrutiny when they murder citizens. I’m frustrated that reconciliation and peace are the only dialog that’s allowed… unless you’re the military.
Anyone out there feeling pain, disgust, frustration, or anger about the death of these human beings… I get it. Find someone who gets it and reach out to them. If you get it listen to people. Let them vent knowing the details don’t matter, knowing that the feelings are what we need to be able to have. I propose listening projects, where you meet with others affected and just give everyone 3-5 min to have any kinds of feelings without judgment.
Please stick to simply having feelings about what happened if you do comment here. If you have something negative to say about black people, rioting, etc. your comments will not be published. This is a safe place for folks who would rather not have to defend their feelings about these atrocities. I have no answers, but I do understand.