Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Officer Wilson and My Laundry

The General Consensus on "Thugs"

I had not planned on writing about my thoughts on the Mike Brown case, and the subsequent ruling that Officer Wilson would not go to trial.  Frankly, it hurts too damn much.  When the verdict came down, I cried, and I felt sick.  Then, as I watched the riots unfurl, I felt worse.  THEN, as I read conversation after conversation online regarding the verdict, I felt outraged. 

And ashamed to be white. 

Though many are claiming this a politically fueled, media induced frenzy of race baiting, being staged by the liberal agenda, if you take the time to seek out what your fellow man has to say about it all, the left and right are shockingly aligned on the matter.  Using Fox and CNN as population samples, you will see the wordings are different, but the view is the same.

All "thugs" are animals, terrorists, criminals, worthless, losers who contribute nothing to our society.  AND, Mike Brown was a thug who was COMMITTING CRIMES, so Goddamn it, JUSTICE SERVED.  *gavel drop*

And that's where the thought process ends.


Keep thinking here folks.  I personally am not supporting anything Mike Brown was up to that day, and I'm sure many of his advocates aren't either.  However, I do support that he should ABSOLUTELY be sitting in jail right now.  The court of law and prison system is SUPPOSED to be in place for criminals to rehabilitate and reform.  Not everybody reforms, but a whole hell of a lot do.  (*ahem* Myself included.)  Since when is the answer to criminal activity, DEATH on sight?  Why have courts?  Why have jails?  Why not just riddle everybody with bullets as soon as they fuck up?  Seems like a good plan, except then this world wouldn't have Will Smith, Tim Allen, Mark Wahlberg, Jay Z, Matthew McConaughey, Vanilla Ice, 50 Cent, Woody Harrelson, Carmen Electra, or myself for that matter.  Everybody should have the right to be better.

Maybe people aren't actually "defending" Brown's crimes, or presuming to say he was innocent of wrongdoing.  Maybe what his "defenders" are saying is he should've been left alive to pay for his crimes, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.

But He Attacked a Cop

Well hell, you're right, fill him up with bullets.

???  Am I in the twilight zone here?  Let me preface by saying law enforcement personnel have my full support. I am a blessed individual to know some pretty damn good cops.  Every police officer that I either, know personally, have interacted with because of needing help, OR have interacted with because I was an asshole and got arrested,  did it right.  I do not feel suspicious or afraid when I see police officers and I do defend them when I hear people bash them for no reason.

But sometimes there are reasonsNot every cop is good, and if we don't wake up and realize that, then this country is in real big trouble, and not just those terrorist, animal "thugs" either.  ALL of us are screwed if excessive force is OK.

Police officers are highly trained in methods to subdue a perpetrator.  EVERYBODY knows that shooting is the last resort.  And everyone keeps saying that...  Wilson did what he had to do.

*nods*  I see, he had to riddle a stoned guy with bullets, who was tussling through a car window for his gun.  (Therefore exposing the fact that he was unarmed, because he wouldn't be going for someone else's gun if he was armed himself.)  Wilson couldn't possibly have put the butt of the pistol upside Brown's head and put his lights out?  He couldn't have thrust open the door and dropped him?  He couldn't have gotten out of the cruiser on the the other side to put himself at a better advantage?  Or hell, HE COULDN'T HAVE JUST SHOT HIM ONCE? I might be able to manage some compassion for Wilson if Mike Brown had been shot once.

One bullet is self defense.  Six is excessive force.  Six is police brutality.  Six is a hate crime. The end.

Then, with full support of his department, Wilson went live after the verdict dropped to wholeheartedly stand by his decision, and reveal photos of the injuries he sustained at Mike Brown's hands.  Injuries I had to squint and put my face up to the computer screen to see.  This man sustained injuries that were less severe then I sustained while putting laundry in the washing machine yesterday.  A draw string snapped and hit me in the eye.  But don't worry, I filled the washing machine with bullet holes, so JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED.

Police are supposed to handle these situations DIFFERENTLY than he did.  And, given the nature of life in Ferguson, it's probably safe to assume that in the past he did handle these sorts of calls appropriately (or appropriatelyish?) since apparently no one else has died at his hands.  But isn't it possible that he had enough?  Isn't it EVEN POSSIBLE that this prick shared the overwhelming consensus of the United States white population, that "thugs" are animals, terrorists, worthless, etc. etc. blah blah.  This attitude is RAMPANT here.  We privileged white folks are SO QUICK to look another human being in the eye and strip away their sense of value without knowing ANYTHING ABOUT THEM, isn't it possible that Wilson has this attitude as well that is so prevalent and apparently OK?

Oh but wait, it's not a race thing, is it?  I forgot.

 It's Not A Racial Issue

I'll probably catch some heat for this statement, but I'm just done.  If you think this isn't a race issue, then you are part of the problem in this country.  If you think this isn't a race issue, you're either lacking in deep thinking skills, or you are a racist yourself.  End of story.

We flippantly refer to African American males who engage in gang activity or "thug" life as animals and terrorists.  But what incentive have we given these young men to be better?  Particularly those who are born into that life (which is most of them).  Racism in this country is not a "thug" thing.  It is a "black" thing.  I would go so far to say that there is not a single African American in this country who hasn't experienced racism, probably most on a daily basis.  This is every socioeconomic status, in every nook and cranny of the United States.  White people ARE PRIVILEGED JUST FOR BEING WHITE, and if you think you aren't you are sadly mistaken.

I once worked with a lady whose husband was a minister.  When my son was born with critical health problems, she and her husband and their congregation were a huge support with their constant prayer for my son.  Once he was doing better and I was able to get out, she invited me to a women's revival at their church one afternoon.  Women only, except for her husband.  When I arrived, the church was packed, and I was the only white woman present.

And it was apparent immediately, that I was not welcome.

I was 26, and this was THE FIRST time that I had been a minority.  But, as soon as I made my way through the crowd and was embraced by the minister and his wife, the congregation immediately accepted me and I had a wonderful time that afternoon.

A lot of white people would read that and say, "Well they were racist toward you."

Nope.  You're wrong.

I sat there and thought about all those women around me.  In the remote rural area where I live, I imagined that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN in that church feels like I felt when I walked in EVERY DAY.  Every single day, I'm positive those women go to a store, or a workplace, or a different church, and they get "those looks" or "those comments" or even undoubtedly acts of violence in the more extreme incidents.  And undoubtedly, they get it from people that I KNOW.  Probably people that I call friends or family.  And when those women were looking at me with suspicion, wondering what I was doing there, there's no doubt in my mind that they were simply wondering what sort of hurt or negativity I was bringing to their door.  They weren't racist because they have been given REASONS to be suspicious of me every day of their lives.  Their mothers were given reasons.  Their grandmothers were given reasons.  Their great grandmothers.  Black Americans have been hurt on such a profound level, its not racist for them to be suspicious.  In our country as it stands, its probably not safe for them to NOT be suspicious on some level.

Which brings me to my next point.

"Reverse" Racism

 First off, it's not ok for anybody to kill anybody.

But you talk to me about it being "racist" for a black person to hate or kill a white person after YOU, privileged white person, have been unable to walk unnoticed down the street your ENTIRE LIFE. I don't pretend to understand the struggle of what it is like to be an African American; I can only imagine how I would feel.  I think about it in terms of making a copy of myself as an African American.  She would be middle class, well spoken, educated, pleasant, wife, mom, and from a good upbringing, just like me.  She would have a kind heart and get a long with people, just like me.  

But by default, her life, and the core of her, would be different because she would go through things that I never would. 

All because of the color of her skin.  She would absolutely encounter dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of people throughout her life who would think her inferior.  Question her intelligence.  Treat her as though she were trash.  She would almost certainly be passed over for jobs or promotions, be pulled over more frequently, her opinions would be ignored, her appearance criticized, and she'd hear ENDLESS insensitive if not totally belligerent comments throughout her life.  And even if, EVEN IF, none of that EVER happened to her, at very least, she'd get "the look" sometime, somewhere and it would come a hell of a lot more frequently than the ONE TIME it's ever happened to me in my entire life.  Putting myself in those shoes, I can tell you, just that would be enough to break me and I would absolutely be a bitter, angry person.  So please spare me the reverse racism horse piss.

The List

If you're following the Ferguson/Mike Brown situation at all, you've probably seen the list.  This is a copy/paste post that people are making all around Facebook to validate their reverse racism claims.  The point of it is that black people kill white people and its not news, and no one protests.  (I.E. Black people protesting are unintelligent for getting so upset over the deaths of their thug buddies.)

This list both infuriates me and makes me laugh all at once.  Maybe these deaths weren't news because the black person in question did not commit a blatant act of police brutality against the white person they killed.  Maybe it really was self defense.  Or if it was a race related crime, hell I don't know, MAYBE THE WHITE PERSON STARTED IT...  There are a thousand reasons why any of these weren't news that sparked riots. But to me, if any of these white deaths were unjust, and we failed to riot...  That doesn't make rioters seem unintelligent.  It makes me feel that we just didn't care enough to take a stand.  That's not something we should be throwing in someone else's face.  That's a shortcoming, not a strength.

Keep Thinking

Let's not be so quick to let Wilson off the hook.  We don't have to "defend" Mike Brown's actions, but we can take a step back and be real.  That man was already coming up in a world designed to knock him down, and now his chance to reform, grow up, make better choices, change his life, its all gone.  I don't support criminal activity, but sometimes there are reasons for it.  And until we can all unify, people in that life don't have much incentive to change.  What in the hell point is there for anybody to want to be better for a society that clearly hates them.  I've seen people make fun of the hash tag #BlackLivesMatter but, its not funny.  Its not funny at all that a huge percentage of the American population has essentially been told by this verdict that their lives DO NOT matter.  A court of law ruling that a man RIDDLED WITH BULLETS by an officer who had other options and IS NOT SORRY, will not even have it's day in court IS a clear message telling African Americans that they don't matter.  And for those of you saying, "Well it would be the same if Mike Brown had been white..."  You are incorrect.  Because if Mike Brown had been white, Mike Brown would be alive, so it wouldn't be the same at all.  A white man doesn't get a tiny scratch and faint bruise from another white man and claim he received a "Hulk Hogan" style beating.  A white man doesn't have an in ground, irrational fear of another white man which will cause his finger to itch on a trigger.  So no, it would not have been the same.

And as for degrading and hating the rioters, I invite you to think that through a little more too.  If excessive force becomes a thing of the past....  If it becomes perfectly acceptable for police officers to shoot to kill, no questions asked, this society will not be safe for anybody.  Cops have a tough job, and even the best of the best may fold under the pressures of that sort of authority.  Even good ones would undoubtedly make bad BAD calls, if they knew that there would be no ramifications.  And if that day comes, it really WON'T be a race thing anymore.  Because nobody will be safe.  Nobody.  So these rioters, they're doing you and me a favor.  They are the unruly anarchists who are rising up and saying NO, we do NOT accept police brutality.  They are sending a message back, that if the judicial system is becoming willing to accept police brutality, there WILL be consequences.  So if a hateful thought crosses your mind, just stop and think of a world where excessive support is supported by the judicial system, and how terrifying that really could be, and maybe that hateful thought won't cross your lips.