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.