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First they came for the Black people, and I did not speak out

Yesterday, 02:45 PM

First they came for the Black people, and I did not speak out
Posted on August 14, 2014

(title in reference to “First they came …“)

It’s the year 2014, in the United States of America, and the people whose entire livelihood is supposed to be the protection of civilians–the keeping of peace, the upholding of our freedoms, the protection of citizens–have donned military garb, weapons, tactics, and ideologies, and are advancing on American citizens with loaded weapons in broad daylight.


Police officers patrol a street in Ferguson, Missouri August 11, 2014 – Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Peaceful protestors, legally gathered and protected by the First Amendment, and journalists, also protected by the First Amendment, have been fired on with rubber bullets and tear gas, arrested without warrant or cause, and been forcibly removed from public spaces.


Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch –  2014 David Carson

All of this is happening, and my Facebook timeline remains full of babies, memes, surveys, and links to Robin Williams videos. Obama hasn’t said hardly a thing. Mainstream news is covering immigration and Robin Williams. If it weren’t for Twitter I wouldn’t even know this is going on.

This is interesting, because this wasn’t what happened with Sandy Hook. Or the Boston marathon bombing. But this is what happens with violence in Chicago.

It’s because this is what we expect. It fits our narrative of the world. Black people in urban settings fighting the police? Look at the kid they shot. His pants were sagging. He was walking in the middle of the street. Look at the interview with that guy who’s protesting–he was speaking in Ebonics. Probably didn’t even finish high school. Look! They’re looting. This is why they can’t have nice things.

So when the police don military garb, we watch it happen like we watch Israel firing on Palestine. “I wish this weren’t necessary,” we say, shaking our heads like a parent who’s telling a child “I’m not going to enjoy this” as they prepare to spank their child. But it is necessary, of course. These people.

Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon bombing shook our worlds because they happened in our worlds.If Michael Brown, the 18-year-old whose death sparked the current protests, were a White kid in suburban Gainesville, my Facebook feed would not be empty. If the protestors being shot at by police were in the middle of Ann Arbor, the news media would not be silent. If the back yards being filled with tear gas were in Andersonville or Evanston, Barack Obama would have said more than a short paragraph. When the places we expect to be safe are made unsafe, we’re not silent for long.

But Ferguson, Missouri is a primarily Black city where 18-year-old boys sag their pants and the almost-all-White police force yell at those 18-year-old-boys to “get the fug on the sidewalk,” and those boys respond that they’re almost home, and when we think of that home–and that sidewalk–we think of projects, dilapidated apartments, tiny browning yards with rusted clotheslines, and it’s so different than our yards, our houses. If we had read this story and pictured our manicured yards with no sidewalks, our wide and slow subdivision streets, and then we added a police officer and an 18-year-old, the cop would be slowing down to gently tell Johnny to remember to stay to the side of the road, and now that I mention it Johnny would for sure have a car and wouldn’t be walking in the road anyway.

You’ll notice that the people who are most upset about this are the people who’ve read this far and said to themselves, “Why the hell is this writer saying ‘We’ when I clearly don’t identify with what he’s saying?” The people who are most upset about the situation are not, surprisingly, anti-big-government libertarians decrying police overstepping their bounds and breaking the First AmendmentThe people who are most upset about this are the people for whom Ferguson, Missouri istheir world. People who grew up in Miami. In Chicago. In Atlanta. People whose ancestors were slaves. Whose parents and grandparents sat at the back of the bus. Whose experiences of police behavior have never made them feel protected and respected.

In the poem I linked at the top of this post, pastor Martin Niemöller wrote about the Holocaust and the cowardly behavior of those who knew they would be protected–at least, at first.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This is what we’re doing. We’re watching our brothers and sisters, our fellow countrymen, marched on by a militarized, First-Amendment-breaking attack force, and we’re doing nothing. Because it doesn’t affect us. It doesn’t unsettle us. It doesn’t make is imagine that happening in our neighborhood, because our neighborhood doesn’t have dark boys with sagging pants walking to decrepit apartments.

In my last post I urged White America, especially White Christian America, that this is the time to listen, not speak (in response to the Zimmerman acquittal.) I’m urging something different this time.

White America–and Asian America, and Latin (U.S.) America, and everyone else–this is the time to get upset. This is the time to find some piece of this insanity and allow yourself to see how wrong this is. Pick a piece. Government and media aren’t doing anything about it. Cops acting as military and disrespecting citizens. Intrusion of private space. Journalists locked up. Breaking the First Amendment. Racist cops. Dead innocent young boys. Whatever it is, let it get you riled up that you actually want to do something. 

Get so upset that you start looking at plane tickets to Ferguson. Realize that this is a massive civil rights issue. This is absolutely absurd and both reflects and predicts a broken, evil thing.

And then find every opportunity you have to act on that. Petition. Call. Inform. Donate. Console. Whatever it is you have in your power to fight this.

In my last post I encouraged you to not be That White Person, who, in the face of Black pain, says “Well, technically…”.

This time, I’m encouraging you to be That Other White Person. The one who, in the face of White apathy towards Black pain, acts counter to your culture and stands in solidarity with people whose neighborhoods might not look like yours. Put yourself in their shoes and see how absolutely insane this situation is, and then act accordingly. Don’t let this happen unchallenged.


* Note: My first tendency when I started learning about issues of justice and racialization was to want to run away from my race. These days I want to build bridges, and you can’t build a bridge to your own people group if you refuse to identify with them. This is why I’ve used the phrase “we” so often, and why I’ve used it when describing some things that I certainly don’t believe–but I do think are a part of the general consciousness of the largest segment of the country.

* Another Note: As I was writing this post, several mainstream media sources have started covering aspects of the situation on their web sites/blogs. That’s a good start.



Yesterday, 12:59 AM


Posted by ryanschuessler on August 21, 2014 · 71 Comments

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 by Lauren Leigh

21 August 2014 - 11:43 PM

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.


Set-up in Furgeson Actors? 2012 Video Predicts Events

21 August 2014 - 04:31 PM

The real reason we got KONY2014 <--haha

10 May 2014 - 01:23 AM



Missouri's Kony Ealy frustrated Texas A&M's Jake Matthews


Getting under Jake Matthews' skin isn't an easy task.

The former Texas A&M left tackle and soon-to-be first-round NFL draft pick keeps an even keel on the field and frustrates opponents with every tool a pass protector needs: size, athleticism and technique. But on the last night of college football's regular season last year, it was Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy doing the frustrating.


"There was a lot of trash-talking," Ealy said, according to stltoday.com. "Both of us. And that's not like him, so I took him out of his comfort zone."

Ealy's stat line against the Aggies was strong if not spectacular (four tackles, one for loss, and a quarterback hurry), but he played well enough to draw Matthews' praise when asked about his toughest assignment.

"I thought Kony Ealy was really good at Missouri," Matthews said. "Real aggressive. Big and strong. Mixed up his pash-rush moves real well."

Helping Ealy through months of pre-draft preparation has been his cousin, former Missouri defensive tackle and current New York Jet Sheldon Richardson.

"Sheldon's been great," Ealy said. "He's been kind of a big brother, mentor to me, just trying to help me through this process -- not knowing what to expect."

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