I had been on the ground helping Al Jazeera America** cover the protests and unrest in Ferguson, Mo., since this all started last week. After what I saw last night, I will not be returning. The behavior and number of journalists there is so appalling, that I cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of the spectacle.
**A clarification edit: I am not a full-time employee of any Al Jazeera branch or network. I am a freelance journalist who contributes to several media platforms.
Things I’ve seen:
-Cameramen yelling at residents in public meetings for standing in way of their cameras
-Cameramen yelling at community leaders for stepping away from podium microphones to better talk to residents
-TV crews making small talk and laughing at the spot where Mike Brown was killed, as residents prayed, mourned
-A TV crew of a to-be-left-unnamed major cable network taking pieces out of a Ferguson business retaining wall to weigh down their tent
-Another major TV network renting out a gated parking lot for their one camera, not letting people in. Safely reporting the news on the other side of a tall fence.
-Journalists making the story about them
-National news correspondents glossing over the context and depth of this story, focusing instead on the sexy images of tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.
-One reporter who, last night, said he came to Ferguson as a “networking opportunity.” He later asked me to take a picture of him with Anderson Cooper.
One anecdote that stands out: as the TV cameras were doing their live shots in front of the one burnt-out building in the three-block stretch of “Ground Zero,” around the corner was a community food/goods drive. I heard one resident say: “Where are the cameras? I’m going to go see if I can find some people to film this.”
Last night a frustrated resident confronted me when he saw my camera: “Yall are down here photographing US, but who gets paid?!”
There are now hundreds of journalists from all over the world coming to Ferguson to film what has become a spectacle. I get the sense that many feel this is their career-maker. In the early days of all this, I was warmly greeted and approached by Ferguson residents. They were glad that journalists were there. The past two days, they do not even look at me and blatantly ignore me. I recognize that I am now just another journalist to them, and their frustration with us is clear. In the beginning there was a recognizable need for media presence, but this is the other extreme. They need time to work through this as a community, without the cameras.
We should all be ashamed, and I cannot do it anymore. I am thankful for my gracious editors who understand that.
Dear white people on my Facebook feed: I love you. I really do. But seriously, please take some advice from one white person to another. Don't look publicly stupid by arguing any of the following about Ferguson:
1) "'They're'" just playing the race card it's not about race." Yes, it is. Because no matter what we find out when the Michael Brown investigation is over, young black men are being profiled and targeted by police in a way that white men are not. If you're 18 and you're white you get a chance to explain yourself. If you're 18 and you're black your parents (maybe) get an attorney to explain your death. That's not equality. And see those quotes around "they're?" The fact that you think this is "their" problem and not OUR problem shows you that segregation is alive and well--at least in your mind.
2) "But our president is black so race is no longer a factor." A black president doesn't mean poo. One half-white, Harvard-educated head of state doesn't indicate any more about the average black experience in America than Bill Gates's wealth indicates about my bank account. We both white. We ain't both rich.
3) "This stuff happens to white kids too but no one talks about it." What the fug are you talking about? No. This kind of thing doesn't happen to white kids too. You know why? Because white people have power by virtue of being white. When a white kid dies under suspicious circumstances, people pay attention. Police don't prey on white people. Because they can't. And even if you find a couple of analogous situations YOU STILL WON'T GET ANYWHERE CLOSE to what the black community experiences every day. Get your head out of your ass. You don't even believe this poo.
4) You don't believe me? Well, try this exercise. And don't worry, you don't have to post your answers because realizing you have racism engrained within you is unsettling, I know. Just do this in your own head: ask yourself, would you, without hesitation, switch places with a black person? No. You wouldn't. Now generate a list of reasons why not. Even the ugly ones you don't want to admit. BINGO! We aren't equal. And race IS still a factor. If it wasn't, you'd switch without a second thought.
5) And finally, don't fuging say you're "tired of hearing about Ferguson." TOO fuging BAD. So sorry we're annoying you. I can see how awful it must be for you especially because WE'LL NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THIS HAPPENING TO OUR CHILDREN. So you have the PRIVILEGE of turning your head. Black people don't.
Stop embarrassing yourselves. And stop speaking like you know what it's like to be black. How about instead you LISTEN for once to what "THEY" are saying and check your privilege at the door. You might learn something. Or, at the very least you may look less like you should be wearing a white hood or a dunce cap.
White-on-white crime (which term doesn’t even exist in our racial or criminological lexicon), is far more prevalent than its black-on-white (or even black-on-black) equivalent, numerically speaking, and yet to white nationalist types, we should draw no conclusions from this at all. White folks can commit mass murder, kidnap, rape, sexually mutilate, or even cannibalize people (like Jeffrey Dahmer, for instance), and represent no one but their solitary selves. Charles Manson is never expected to serve as a stand-in for white folks writ large.
But every black criminal — whether James Edwards, accused of shooting Australian baseball star, Chris Lane, in Oklahoma last week, or the two black teens who beat the white World War Two veteran to death in Spokane a few days later — is somehow taken as exhibit A in the racist fantasies of America’s neo-Nazi set. White criminals and deviants are just bad individuals. Black ones are indicative of a broader cultural or genetic truth.
If you have NEVER been followed by police for no reason...if you have NEVER been followed around a mall for no reason.....if you have NEVER been frisked for no reason....if you have NEVER been assaulted by police because he was having a "bad day" .................. PLEASE do not make the assumption that police do not hit or abuse their power....They do.... I have seen police abuse their power first hand.....
Of course a check does not make history go ahead but it is how we apologize in America. If I murder your kids or raped your mother would you not feel some type of way? Would you not want the system that allowed this to happen to compensate for your loss? If people didnt care about history then people would not still be seeking justice for 9/11 and they would stop celebrating 9/11 and independence day.
Six times victims have received reparations — including four in the US
The forced internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans in camps during World War II resulted in about $3.1 billion in property loss and $6.4 billion in income loss, in 2014 dollars. If you account for the possibility that that money might have been invested and gotten above-inflation returns, the economic losses are even larger.
Congress made two attempts at reparations, the Japanese-American Claims Act of 1948 and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Between 1948 and 1965, the former authorized payments totaling $38 million (which comes to somewhere between $286 to $374 million in 2014 dollars), which didn't come close to matching the economic loss. The latter offered survivors $20,000 each in reparations. By 1998, 80,000 survivors had collected their share, for a total payout of $1.6 billion (between $2.3 billion and $3.2 billion today). There is no accounting by which either measure adequately repaid internees for their economic losses, let alone compensated for pain and suffering.
Most Americans states practiced one or another form of eugenics during the 20th century, with forced sterilizations of "unfit" people being a prime instrument. The targets were largely but by no means entirely mentally or developmentally disabled; poor black women on welfare were especially likely to be victimized in this manner. The Supreme Court gave the practice a green light with 1927's Buck v. Bell, and eventually 33 states adopted the practice, forcibly sterilizing about 65,000 people total through the 1970s. Oregon forcibly sterilized people as late as 1981, and its Board of Eugenics (renamed the "Board of Social Protection" in 1967) was only abolished in 1983.
Very few states have acknowledged or apologized for these policies, and only one, North Carolina, has set up a reparations program. The state sterilized about 7,600 people, most of whom are no longer living, but last year passed a $10 million reparations program that should give the more than 177 living victims somewhere in the range of $50,000 each. The payments should be made within a few years. Some victims have objected, saying this doesn't come close to remedying the injustice. As one victim, Elaine Riddick Jessie (who was sterilized at age 14 after being raped and giving the resulting son up for adoption), put it, "If I accepted it, what kind of value am I putting on my life?"
California, which sterilized by far the largest number of people of any state, has yet to pay out reparations.
After the end of the Tuskegee experiment — in which 399 black men with syphilis were left untreated to study the progression of the disease between 1932 and 1972 — the government reached a $10 million out of court settlement with the victims and their families in 1974, which included both monetary reparations(in 2014 dollars, $178,000 for men in the study who had syphilis, $72,000 for heirs, $77,000 for those in the control group and $24,000 for heirs of those in the control group) and a promise of lifelong medical treatment for both participants and their immediate families. According to the CDC, 15 descendants are still receiving treatment through the program today.
In 1923, the primarily black town of Rosewood on the Gulf Coast of Florida was destroyed in a race riotthat, by official counts, killed at least six black residents and two whites (though some descendants of the town's residents have claimed many more were killed and dumped in mass graves). In 1994, the state of Florida agreed to a reparations package worth around $3.36 million in 2014 dollars, of which $2.4 million today would be set aside to compensate the 11 or so remaining survivors of the incident, $800,000 to compensate those who were forced to flee the town, and $160,000 would go to college scholarships primarily aimed at descendants.
This kind of looting makes me sick. It's not a protest or a sign of solidarity because a crime was committed against a minority by the police. It's just an opportunistic way for people to get free groceries and flat screens.
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"Riot is the language of the unheard" - MLK Jr
Also from people that were there it is only a SMALL percentage of folks rioting and a group of men came and stopped them. It started off by cops calling the young teens "monkeys" and telling them to go home and it escalated after that. Remember now people riot for much less things in this country such as Stanley Cup championships and college football. The students tear up their own universities and cities over a damn game.