Ferguson and the Future

This is not a political blog by any means, and I don’t intend for it to become one, but tonight, my heart is heavy and I find myself unable to sleep. Can I ramble on about the city of Ferguson, Missouri, for a moment?

Darren Wilson faced a grand jury and just a few hours ago, the decision to not indict him on the killing of Michael Brown was finally announced. I don’t really know why I’m the least bit surprised; I suppose that I hoped for some sort of justice for Brown and his family. At least with an indictment, he would face a trial and there could be some possibility that Wilson would have to answer for what he did. He has walked away from all of this a free man. He should count himself very lucky.

What does this mean for Ferguson and the future of our country? I don’t know. There are reports of protests in cities around the nation: Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle. There is violence in Ferguson. People are furious, and they have a right to be, will it change anything? I sure hope so, especially with how many people are supporting the protests around the country.

I read the transcript of Darren Wilson’s testimony in front of the grand jury, and I have to admit, some things just don’t seem to add up in my head. (Editing to add, as of 11/26/14: Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks that, just check out this article on Vox that explains what parts of Wilson’s testimony just don’t make sense.)

I believe that there are many details on Wilson’s side are either grossly exaggerated or made-up altogether. Unfortunately, his is the only account that we have. Michael Brown is dead. We can’t get his side of the story, so we are forced to rely on the evidence we are presented, including the testimony of Brown’s murderer.

Tonight, when it was finally announced that the grand jury had chosen not to indict Wilson on the killing of Michael Brown, I had tears in my eyes. I cried for the loss of a child who was shot and killed despite the fact that he was unarmed. I cried for the parents who will never be able to see their son graduate college or get married or start a family. I cried because the grand jury just told Darren Wilson that what he did was okay and that there will be another family, maybe in Ferguson or maybe somewhere else, who will have to deal with an incident like this somewhere down the line. History will repeat itself because this was not handled properly in the beginning.

I am a white woman. I am married to a white man. We have a white daughter and our future children will be white. I don’t know what it’s like to live in fear of my child becoming involved with the law on the basis that he or she has dark skin. I will never have to figure out how to talk to my children about dealing with the police because they will never be stopped on the street for being black, because ultimately, that is why it all started. Ferguson is a predominantly black community with a predominantly white police force and racial tensions have been high in the community for years, and you cannot tell me that Michael Brown being a young black man had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to him on August 9.

I will never pretend to understand what it’s like to be a person of color in our society, and I also will not pretend that there aren’t certain privileges that I have as a result of my own skin color. The conversations that black families in Ferguson (and around the country) have with their children will not be ones I will have to have with mine. In 2014, that is absolutely insane. This is not the world that the leaders of the civil rights movement fifty and sixty years ago had envisioned. We still have so far to go.

Tonight, my heart hurts for the family of Michael Brown. In the end, no matter how you feel about Officer Darren Wilson, the life of a young man was lost and that is truly a tragedy. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that this boy’s parents are feeling tonight, knowing that not only is their son dead but that there will be no possibility of justice, and knowing that this will happen to someone else’s child in the future because of the precedence that this has set. We can only hope that there is hope for change down the road, and that maybe, something like this can be prevented from happening again to someone else.

My thoughts are with Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown Sr., and the city of Ferguson this evening.

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