I don’t like writing about race. It’s my least favorite subject to write about and honestly, it’s something that I try to ignore every day despite what I see when I look in the mirror. With my mixed background and my recently dyed hair, I’ve had some people come up and ask me what ethnicity I am- it’s easy to lie and hide, telling them that I’m not this. At the same time, I can be bundled up, riding my bike to school and someone in a passing by car shouts out “hey, nigger” from their window- that person knows my truth. Race is unfortunately a part of my life- as well as many other lives.
I didn’t want to write about the events from last night- Darren Wilson, the white officer many accused with the killing of the unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, was not indicted with any criminal charges. A St. Louis County grand jury, consisting of nine whites and three blacks individuals, made the decision last night, stating there was little evidence to press charges on the officer. This announcement sparked outcry all across the United States, with protests springing up in nearly every major city– including my own. If people in my city are upsetting, crying out about this, how could I not write about this and not let my own voice be heard?
I didn’t hear the announcement until a few hours later. My heart sank in disappointment and but in all actuality, I wasn’t surprised. It is not the first time a man was able to walk away. I don’t know much about our justice system other than what I learned about in school. I never served on a jury and I never studied a murder case before. But I still question the jury’s decision and wonder if any form of justice will ever be held. At the end of the day, a man was killed.
Last night as we drove home from dinner, my boyfriend and I talked about the rioting and looting in Missouri after the verdict was announced. I explained to him that I don’t necessarily support the rioting but I understand and sympathize with the reason why the people in Ferguson are doing so. Martin Luther King, Jr. said moments before his assassination, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” As disheartening it is to admit, sometimes one needs to see and experience violence in order to change. Yes, change can happen without guns and bullets and fire starters but in the end, years from now, will we remember the peaceful protests or the vandalism? After the fires smolder out and those who were arrested last night are freed, I wonder if the protestors will look at what they did and plan on doing something better- perhaps running for a position in their local government where they will be able to make a lasting change to their community.
One of the things I keep thinking about is how this will affect the future of Black America. My boyfriend and I talk about one day, adopting a family. I want to adopt sons- growing up in a house filled with sisters, I wanted sons since the moment I decided that I wanted kids. I can imagine a beautiful little boy- my son- with dark smooth skin holding my hand at the market. I don’t want that child to be afraid– to be afraid that people who are supposed to serve and protect him will end up hurting him; to be afraid of being accused doing something negative and violent just because he looks a certain way; to be afraid of being stopped for no reason. No child should grow up afraid. No one should walk out of their house afraid, terrified of words and other’s wrong actions.
As I look to the future, I hope… I hope that we can all learn what happened and make some serious change. I hope people will hold themselves accountable for their actions, both right and wrong, instead of hiding in the shadows or proudly boasting about it. I hope those who deserve both justice and punishment receive it. I hope more people will respond to their government politics and vote for those who actually represent them and their beliefs, so that everyone’s voice could be heard. I hope that people won’t turn a blind eye and an ignorant heart watching an event in a place that’s not in their backyard. I hope that people will start respecting each other regardless of their profession and their race.
One can hope…