Here is part 2 of my thoughts surrounding the murder of Michael Brown. Not everything covered in this series is clearly related to Michael Brown but all the thoughts and events in this series came as a result of that incident. Part 1 can be found here.
This is the part most people want to know about – how the bus trip came to be and how it went. Once again, I really don’t know where to start with this. Talking about this so candidly could easily get me in trouble. (Hindsight: I just finished writing this and it’s way too long. So I split it up into several more posts about the bus trip itself.) Everyone’s been asking me, “OMG how was your trip?” like I went on vacation. So that’s been weird. If I told people I was going to visit Ground Zero in NYC nobody would ask me in that tone. And no, Mr. I Jump To Conclusions, I’m not comparing the thousands of lives lost in 9/11 to Michael Brown. But the reverence just isn’t there for Black bodies in general, and it was on display here. Which is a point I will get to later.
Michael Brown was murdered by Officer Darren Wilson. In the days that followed, twitter erupted and the news began to cover it. Again, part 1 covers this in much more detail. Petitions began to go around to get police to wear front facing cameras. The biggest one I saw had more than maybe 50 or 60 thousand signatures – started by Shaun King. Talib Kweli began retweeting him and it got bigger and bigger. Suddenly it had 200,000 signatures. Dude was legit! One interesting thing about this movement, that I covered in part 1, is that twitter really came together. Strangers were supporting strangers. That’s great. However, the downside to not having national leaders we can trust leading this movement? People pop up, claim to be down for the cause, and then aren’t. We’ll come back to that.
So here’s how and when #DCtoFerguson came to life: I see Shaun King has created an event! He is organizing a march in Ferguson NEXT SATURDAY! (Plot twist – this march never happens. We’ll cover that later.)
Drive. Walk. Fly. Crawl. Jog. Take a bus. Carpool. Just meet me in Saint Louis for a MARCH FOR JUSTICE next Saturday https://t.co/9xfuh8fY9b
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 15, 2014
It’s Friday, August 15th. 4:07pm Shaun is organizing a march for Saturday, August 23. Literally one minute later:
The reason I’m highlighting that? Point number 2.
2. The Decision to Go: All Hail Rev. Dr. Michelle Huxtable
That interaction you just saw is literally all there is to the “How did you come up with this idea?” story. A one minute thought process. Ever since I organized this bus of 41 people I’ve been contacted for TV news and newspaper interviews. Someone (not one of the two I just linked to) asked how I came up with the idea of bussing. How I came up with the idea of bussing. Bussing. As if that wasn’t a staple in the fight for Civil Rights of the 60s. To go back to a lesson in Part 1: Language, can we stop calling it the Civil Rights Era. We’re still in it. We’re still fighting. So when someone in 2014 asks how I came up with the idea for bussing for civil rights, you’ll have to understand why I’m uncomfortably angry.
Let’s say I get past that, though. Maybe they phrased the question in a weird way and didn’t mean that. Maybe they meant what made me, just a 24 year old in school, decide to take on the gargantuan task of taking a bus of people down to Ferguson. But, even that is a problem. The fact that my instinctual reaction to just GO wasn’t good enough says a lot. The fact that some reporters felt the need to understand why I would go says a lot. I wish someone asked me how I felt that other people weren’t going. And this is not at all to say those of you who did not up and go to Ferguson are wrong or inferior to me. We’ll get to how useful or useless a trip to Ferguson is in a moment. I say that to say I’m not unique. I’m not special. I’m not a brave leader. I’m not an activist. Well I am. But not for that reason. I see the word activist the same as I see the word feminist. Everyone should want women and men to be equal. Everyone should want the races to be equal. It should be something everyone is. And if everyone is, why even have the label?
I’m just a concerned citizen and human being. By the time I wanted to go, tanks were firing tear gas and rubber bullets on American citizens. Yes I was pissed and literally could not sleep because of the murder of Michael Brown. But for some reason I was really upset about the fact that their constitutional rights were being trampled on and nobody seemed to care. So I was fired up. And it angered me that if the shooting of an unarmed teenager by a police officer didn’t evoke empathy, you “let’s take back our country” folks and the average American didn’t care about THAT? If you felt nothing during this Justice for Michael Brown movement, you need to see a doctor. That level of lack of empathy is typically aligned with psychopathy.
I wish it wasn’t strange that I cared that a Black kid was murdered by a police officer who was supposed to protect and serve. I wish it wasn’t strange that I wanted to go to Ferguson to support the protesters. I wish it wasn’t strange that I wanted to make it easy for others to go too. I wish more people didn’t feel so proud of me for doing this. I wish more people got so pissed and so fed up that they just instinctually reacted. I reacted by taking a bus. I’m reacting by typing this. I’m not done reacting. Maybe you’ll react by mobilizing your community where you are.
Upcoming: Ferguson Part 3: Black Leadership