Well here we go again. Another white cop gets off for killing an unarmed black man. the list is getting ridiculously long. Last night we learned that a grand jury will not indict Darren Wilson on any charges for shooting and killing 18 year old Michael Brown. Many are outraged, angry and disappointed but not surprised. Just another day in the life. Of course those defending this act are doing what they always do, demonizing the victim to justify what happened. We hear that he was this 6’4 thug (Darren Wilson is 6’4 also I might add) who was stealing cigarillos (which Wilson knew nothing about when he confronted Brown) and that he attacked first and brought it on himself. Of course the testimony of various witnesses who consistently stated that they saw Brown in the act of surrendering meant nothing in the end. Just another black man who was killed in an act of justifiable homicide.
The question now is where do we go from here? No easy answer but I will tell you now that it isn’t violence. While the anger behind it is understandable, what is to be gained from destroying your own neighborhoods, destroying businesses whose owners had nothing to do with what happened and giving white racists further ammunition to use against the image of black people? Absolutely nothing. Michael Brown’s parents, President Obama and local community leaders have all thankfully urged calm but unfortunately that is easier said than done. When cooler heads prevail, and they eventually will, the focus now is on what do we do that is actually constructive. Getting more people in the community registered to vote is a start. Juries are picked from registered voters and the more people of color to choose from the better. It also puts the local community in more of a position to make the change that really matters, from the inside. It often isn’t until these things happen that any significant action is taken and much of the time it is more reactive than proactive. That has to change.
Another thing that has to change is better economic awareness. there’s no need to rehash the spending habits of the black community. What we need to do is to emphasize the importance of prioritizing, saving and investing. Many activists are calling on the black community to boycott Black Friday and while that would have a short term impact, it would certainly be enough of an impact to get many to take notice. Books are much more powerful in black people’s hands than Air Jordans will ever be on our feet. Talk is cheap but money really talks.
And while this may not win many fans, we need to take a harder look at what is going on within our own four walls and admit to ourselves that what we’re doing simply isn’t working. No community can make significant progress when the majority of it’s children, particularly it’s males, are raised without a positive male figure in the home. It’s not opinion that children raised by both parents generally do better in school, stay out of trouble with the law and end up being more productive contributors to society, study after study has shown that it’s true. Look at how too many of our young black men are coming up, ask yourself if it is successful and then ask what can we do to change it. After the Trayvon Martin verdict, my wife and I spoke had a serious talk with our sons about racism, dealing with the police, understanding how they are viewed in society and how they should carry themselves as young black men and every parent of a black child needs to do the same. Those are small steps for sure but things have to start somewhere.
And remember this, Emmett Till’s lynching by a racist mob and their subsequent acquittal did not result in rioting and looting. What happened instead? It helped to catalyze the Civil Rights Movement. Could recent events have the same effect? No reason why not.