And let it begin with me.

My intention was to come over here and talk about what’s happening in Ferguson.

I’ve started at least ten different sentences, and everything I write sounds scattered.

Please know that the city is not on fire. Please know that although the media might think that fires make for sexy television, the arson (and the looting) is just a small part of the big (mostly peaceful) picture.

This morning I sat down with Harper and said, “Today you’ll be talking about Ferguson at school, and a lot of the kids will simply repeat the things they’ve heard their parents say, and sometimes those things are very insensitive. Just know that about ten years ago I was feeling angry and hopeless and tired, and I picked up an ottoman and threw it across the room. I then kicked that ottoman and I started crying and it didn’t really help anything, but I was way past trying to control myself. I can only assume that the people in Ferguson who are looting and setting buildings and cars on fire are feeling that same mixture of anger and hopelessness and fatigue. It doesn’t make destruction okay, but we will never say that they’re bad people. They have had enough. A lot of people have had enough. I’ve had enough. And what will come out of Ferguson will hopefully be amazing. Because we all need amazing. We all need a lot of amazing.”

I am a 44-year-old white woman. I have no idea what it’s like to be followed by a police officer while going for a run. I have no idea what it’s like to be a child who has learned to be fearful simply because of youth and blackness. When I go into a store, no one follows me. No one questions me when I flip out and stick a box of spaghetti into my coat pocket so I can get my phone out of my other pocket. I have never been treated differently because of the color of my skin, and because of that, I feel the urgent need to listen and learn.

When Harper got home from school today, she told me that a boy in her class started to talk about Michael Brown, and the teacher stopped him.

The teacher stopped him.

The African American population at the elementary school is 5%. (The school we attended last year has an African American population of 31%, and I miss that school more than words can say.) To me, it is unacceptable to pass on the opportunity to speak about Ferguson, especially at a school where most of the kids have no African American classmates or friends.

Listening and learning is good.

Dialogue is better.

A combination of the three is what we need to kick off our Amazing. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

20 thoughts on “And let it begin with me.”

  1. Wow. I’m going to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt and hope that she was just feeling the pressure of time, curriculum, etc, and would have stopped any off-topic conversation at that moment, which (since I’m also a teacher) I can totally understand. BUT… sometimes we have things going on outside that school that are huge opportunities to learn things that are not on the day’s lesson plan, and you have to say screw it. This conversation, while much more difficult, is a much more valuable lesson then whatever else was on the agenda.

  2. Nikki and I talked a lot about it last night. I really have no idea what to say in a lot of ways, but I hope that – like you said – the dialog itself is important, even if I’m not choosing the right words.

  3. Make enough police officers not feel safe, put pictures of their homes in the media, threaten to kill them for stopping a looter, which Brown was, and you get…… the national guard………somehow I don’t feel safer.

  4. I had a hard time composing a post today myself, but I felt I needed to say something. Listening and learning is so important right now. Otherwise, how will anything change?

  5. We could shut off the television too.

    I thank you for this as you’ve put into words what I was thinking when someone told me, tonight, that the people in Ferguson were behaving like animals.
    No one, ever ought to say something like that.

  6. My workplace is highly diverse & very close to the events last night. It was also very empty today.
    My own neighborhood was hit last night too.
    Destruction isn’t ok. Not much of this is ok right now. But there are stories of good people doing good things during bad times. And I share those stories freely with my kid. It takes our focus off the helicopters overhead.

  7. As the mother of a black boy, I am grateful for the marches across the country. There have been too many deaths- for walking in the wrong neighborhood, for playing music too loud, for shopping in Walmart for an air soft gun, for mouthing off, for ‘looking like’ a suspect. The list goes on and on. If the raised awareness can help save the life if my Dexter and countless other young black boys, it will be worth every blocked highway.

  8. This is truly beautiful. I am from Florissant and live in St. Charles. I hope your words come to be realized.

  9. The title of this post is perfect. Judging from the other comments, it has begun with you. Thank you for stating it so perfectly and letting the needed conversation begin on the right track. Thank you again and again.

  10. We have been on news black-out for the past few days due to impressionable young houseguest. Nothing I have seen from my FB friends is making me anything other than sad. Your explanation of how anger, and relative violence does not necessarily equate to being a bad person is astoundingly clear, Angela.

    When in the world, World, will we *all* have had enough?!

    Also, what Grammy said.

    Love and light to all this holiday weekend.

  11. A someone in a situation similar to yours, this is the best post I have read about Ferguson. You are wise and your kids are lucky to have you (your readers are, too). xoxo

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