THE FIRE NEXT TIME: FERGUSON, MISSOURI, AFTER THE GRAND JURY
“I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it. And I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. One can be, indeed one must strive to become, tough and philosophical concerning destruction and death, for this is what most of mankind has been best at since we have heard of man. (But remember: most of mankind is not all of mankind.) But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
I place that quote at the beginning of this post because America is now different. The country has changed in ways that no longer can be hidden while it remains shackled by the hatred and debts owed from a past rife with injustice. The most recent injustice, the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri this past August, has been met with yet another injustice, no true bill of indictment against Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson, to be certain isn’t a singular manifestation of the disease afflicting America this police officer is simply a symptom of what keeps America from being healthy.
Fifty years ago had a black citizen hit a police officer he would have been killed and the answer the white officer would have given would have been peppered with racial epithets and the opprobrium would have flown out of “civilized” white society against the black community as if it were a monolith. This morning as I watch the coverage on Fox News and CNN, I see the hyperbole but for a different reason. I can feel the undertones of the bigotry but this fire is not life the fires of the past.
This time the violence manifested from the frustrations of people of color and their white and brown and yellow allies across America is not limited to slums and ghettos and redlining communities where bigotry has sought to cage them. People marched in Beverly Hills. People marched and rioted and burned in Dellwood, Missouri which is more suburban than Ferguson. The police commissioner of New York City had fake blood thrown on him. This all because the announcement was made in the night when the chaos was guaranteed.
This is not simply a mob scene, people. This isn’t as one commenter to the blog called it “a chimpout.” That odious description of the frustration of a people left to a second class existence in a city where they are the majority is deplorable but it does make sense when you consider the depth of the bigotry within the Ferguson Police Department. Those that are destroying property in Ferguson are not burning their own homes they are attacking police cars and businesses because Darren Wilson, a man who has married Barbara Spradling recently a conformation of his ties to elements of the KKK has said in the Grand Jury that he feared for his life. The pictures of his face after the shooting do not bear out that he was injured to a point where he was in imminent threat of death but I was not there and cannot be inside the officer’s mind at the time. In the end this will become a victory for those like me who support equal justice. The question remains however where the fire will go next.
Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., CS, O.Q.H [Journ.]
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