Three Things White People Should(n’t) Do About Ferguson Today
Last night, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced the long awaited decision from a Missouri grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. While many of us knew the outcome – since it was foretold a few weeks ago when riot gear and military grade weaponry were shipped into Ferguson – we also hoped we were wrong. Well, we weren’t. But, that doesn’t mean White folks should be sponsoring parades right now.
Here’s a (brief) list of things Whites shouldn’t be doing. If you witness this mess, feel free to offer them a handful of STFU or a side of GTFOOHWTBS.
1. White folks probably shouldn’t be blaming Mike Brown because they think he was a “thug” or “criminal.”
Statistics show that white folks commit crimes a lot. Like, a lot. Unsurprisingly, White people are entirely capable of committing – and in fact more likely to commit – heinous, debased crimes against their own. This notion that crime is reserved for Black and brown people is not only uninformed, it’s asinine. Regardless of the crime committed though, there is literally no legal statute on the books in this country which makes being a “thug” or “criminal” automatically punishable by death.
No matter what Mike Brown was (or wasn’t) doing when Officer Wilson confronted him, there was literally no circumstance where his murder was legally sanctioned. Wilson’s fear of this unarmed teen did not give him a right to act as judge, jury and executioner. Frankly, Brown would have received more leniency during the era of slavery when his worth as property would have potentially ensured his return to a plantation. How insane is that?
Lastly, White folks need to leave the word “thug” out of the conversation until they decide collectively that the White couple behind “Thug Kitchen” should be shot down in the street too.
2. White folks should lay off of rioters since they are notorious for burning ish down.
Last night, President Obama gave a disappointing, non-solidaritous speech asking protesters in Ferguson and around the country to act “constructively.” He, and McCulloch, attempted to police the reactions of those actively seeking redress for grievances rather than simply demanding a trial for Darren Wilson. The shortest route to “constructiveness” was to simply have a trial. In this country, we do that. We have trials. But, the institutional actors both local to Ferguson and in Washington DC failed to do even that. Now, they want us to act “constructively.” Nope. How about we all work to dismantle a system of race hierarchy. Maybe then we will be “constructive.”
Let’s not forget that White college students recently burned cars, demolished property, and wrecked a whole city over pumpkins a few weeks ago. Need more images of White people burning s–t down in the name of nothing? There’s a Storify for that.
Race aside, there are justifiable reasons to be raging in the streets. This is one of them. Pumpkins? Not so much.
3. White folks shouldn’t be haranguing Black despondent folks disappointed by yesterday’s announcement.
There are some really sickening White people who saw this press conference and all they could do was spike the proverbial football for Darren Wilson’s freedom. They saw this imaginary match-up between a “scary” Black boy and a “poor, assaulted” White cop (who looks less like he was assaulted and more like he was blushing…cause white folks do that) as a challenge for legitimacy of power and racial domination. Much like the many boxing matches between early twentieth century Black boxers and White title holders around the world, this issue (for some Whites) was not just about police violence but about the preservation of White Supremacy. For those people, last night’s presser was like a touchdown in the final seconds of the Super Bowl. Those are the individuals who simply cannot be helped.
But, for the well-meaning Whites who now want to use this moment to learn about racism or whatever, this is the time to go the hell away. Like, literally. Go away.
Stop waiting until there has been an unspeakable tragedy in the Black community to act like our lived experiences mean something. When you do that, we know they actually don’t. Open a book. Use the Google. Find the Internets. They all work. But right now? Don’t bother Black people. We aren’t here for your use and personal gratification.
While grand juries usually choose to indict, it seems that cases involving law enforcement are the exception to the rule. To me, that is something White people should be questioning right now. Why was that method chosen? Why now? These are important questions. But, of course they won’t be asked. Instead, the above listed will probably be the chosen forms of (in)action.
Let me end with one thing: Darren Wilson is now a very wealthy man. He has been raising money from personal donors, large fundraisers, and other sources in the months following Mike Brown’s murder. His sole merit in receiving said funds was that he happened to be a White police officer who killed a Black teen. That’s it. Thousands of people financially rewarded him – a murderer – for killing a Black boy. When White people start to inquire about the reasons behind that, I might take them a bit more seriously.
There will be some White people who need more people and won’t get this message. Feel free to unfriend them (literally or virtually), ignore them, or otherwise extradite them back to their own people when confronted with their foolery. Don’t engage them. There is absolutely nothing to be gained from it.
Watch McCulloch’s full presser below:
Here’s a clip of President Obama’s statement on Ferguson:
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