Today, my heart is heavy. Not only because justice wasn’t served in the case of Michael Brown. And not only because I’m black and have a twelve-year-old brother, and male cousins, and male friends who could have been Michael Brown. Today, my heart is heavy because I am a cognizant human being, aware that the claws of injustice have once again prevailed, and have successfully denied a deserving human being of his most basic human right: the right to live.
My heart is heavy. Not only because of the outcome of the Michael Brown case itself – however, I will say I wasn’t expecting much from a justice system not designed to protect black people, let alone recognize them as more than three-fifths human – my sadness stems from the fragmentation of unity amongst the BC community in their concern.
I have listened to everything from arguments laden in ignorance, to downright offensive statements, particularly one made by a white male during the protests at BC, in which he screamed in the faces of black students, “white people are just better than you.” He may be an anomaly, in his demonstration of ignorance and hatred but still, my heart is heavy.
As a community thought to be made up of the best and brightest, overall we met Monday’s decision with overwhelming silence. While many members of the BC community spoke out against a substantive issue plaguing the black community, if not, society as a whole, many more members chose to remain silent, and even worse, ignorant.
If it hadn’t been evident to me before, the events of Monday reinforced the fact that our community is one that generally turns a blind eye to the problems caused by the biological myth we like to call race.
When we stand together as a community saddened by the killing of an unarmed teenager – someone who could have been a classmate, friend, brother or boyfriend – the prominence of race, as a social construct with damning consequences, is greatly lessened.
However, when we do not stand together, as we have chosen to do in light of the Michael Brown case, the myth is perpetuated. My white classmates may never have to experience, never mind understand, the different set of societal expectations and rules people of color are made to live by simply because of their skin, but that doesn’t make the reality any less real.
My white classmates may struggle to understand that discrimination is alive and well because their skin color will never cause them to be perceived as a threat, a stealer, someone who isn’t as capable, whose intelligence needs to be affirmed by Affirmative Action – as a spectacle, with coarse hair made to be pet and commented on, a big ass made to be coveted, and not much else.
My heart is heavy because my white classmates struggle to understand the emotional stress produced by living under these stereotypes, on top of the stress that comes from life in general. And so, a majority chooses to remain silent and ignorant of the historical and systemic shutting out of blacks from enclaves of power, not to mention the historical and systemic denial of rights granted by law, aiding and abetting the perpetuation of general distress.
My heart is heavy. For, somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that we’re all humans who feel and hurt and struggle and hope – we’re not just black and white.
We’re better than this, BC.