Longtime readers know that I’m a bit addicted to the history of social justice movements. After this week, I can’t help pondering how the distance of time informs the way events are viewed. I have lived through more than my fair share of before and after events…those moments that shift everything and never fade away. Ferguson now joins that list…and the only thing I’m certain of is that nothing will ever be the same.
Nothing like a rapidly unfolding social justice happening to remind the masses why the press matters, that black radio has a unique and important role in our community, and that citizen journalism matters.
For folk following around the world, coverage from journalists on the ground have helped them better understand what’s going on in Ferguson and how we got here.
For those of us who live in the St. Louis area, many of us are grateful even as we accept the reality that this level of coverage will not hold…even as the fear of what the eyes of the world shifting away hovers over every day.
For now, the whole world is watching and that is a good thing.
Last night I finally took a moment to have a serious cry.
Not quiet or delicate, but ugly and intense.
I let all of the emotion of the past week roll over me until my lungs hurt and my hands curled into a fist so tight my nails left marks.
I needed that…even though it didn’t make it all better, even though it didn’t purge a damn thing.
I just needed to release the pressure, because we’ve got another week ahead of us, and long road left to march.
Years ago, I wrote about the death of Anna Brown, a young black mother who was denied healthcare at a local hospital then arrested for trespassing only to be left to die in agony from blood clots on a jail cell floor. When I shared the post on Facebook, I also linked to an article in our daily newspaper and cautioned readers not to read the comments. One reader asked why I added that caution…why I didn’t read the comments to find out how other folk felt about the incident. And I told her that my experience was that many comments were awful, callous and cruel celebrations of oppression, assault, death or humiliation…and I added that it is extra painful, somehow more jarring, to know that the people saying horrible things are my fellow St. Louisans.
Fast forward to the now…and I can’t dodge those comments. There is no filter at the grocery store, waiting at the Walgreens, reading Facebook or Twitter hashtag feeds.
And its more than just a lot of opinions about the killing of Michael Brown or the events still evolving in Ferguson…there’s more here than just a difference of perspective.
There is that same celebration of oppression, assault, death and humiliation that dominates the comment section of my local daily newspaper…offered up without shame sometimes by people I’ve known for years.
This past week I’ve seen the best of many and the worst of more than I would have predicted.
Kind of sums up the whole happening that is Ferguson – our best and worst, our accomplishments and our failings, what we are getting right and what we need to fix, and why we can’t all just agree to disagree then move on as if nothing happened.
Ferguson is now on my list of before and after happenings…
…and the only thing I’m certain of is that nothing will ever be the same.