“Mike Brown Means Got To Fight Back!”
It has been seven years since I heard this chant on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. Officer Darren Wilson murdered Michael Brown, Jr. on August 9th, 2014–is still free. And he is probably living somewhere in Lake Saint Louis, with no hope of ever being a police officer ever again.
In seven years, my children are middle schoolers, Tamir Rice would be starting college, Trayvon, Jordan Davis, Jordan Edwards, could all be dormmates, and Atatiana, Breonna should be pursuing their dreams in helping professions. And George Floyd should have been able to live his live and drive home. And Michael Brown, Jr. should be 25. At 25, I as married, about to be a mother, and starting my life.
In reflecting this year, through the iPhone footage of Darnella Frazier, a global pandemic, and fighting through an election, which turned into an insurrection–this year feels different. More needed, more necessary! The things that draw my attention this year, as I remember is just how needed Black voices are. How needed and precious they are, and just what it means to be Black and present in situations that are life-changing. Indeed, this year is different–but the fight is the same!
This year, I had to give my children The Talk.
This year, I had to tell them how to respond when stopped by the police (i.e., how to survive a police encounter).
This year, their mortality and my own are more real to me than they had been before.
This year, I hold my kids tighter–because hashtags have neither age limits or expiration dates, just expanding lists.
This year, Josh “Kid Ferguson” Williams is getting out of prison.
This year, Elle Dowd–clergy and activist–wrote a book inspired by him.
And as I go to celebrate the life of my best friend’s husband, whom I would have never met had a man not been murdered, I remember that to stay silent is to give up…and I can’t do either. Ferguson is still everywhere–and in everyone that was there. And here. And still call this place (St. Louis and its surrounding suburbs) home and Hell.
We fight, because we cannot afford to die.
[image a screenshot from my personal Facebook.]