The 24th of November, 2014 will be written down in history textbooks. It will be remembered through spray painted demands for social justice on brick walls. It will linger in the minds of those who, years from now, will be reading Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. It will be a stain on the “justice” system of the United States of America.
How could they do it? Why did they do it? How did we allow them to do it? And why does this situation feel so achingly familiar?
I am a person of color, but I am not black. I am a minority, but I am not black. I am a Muslim woman, but I am not black. I am enraged, but I am not black. I am an activist, but I am not black.
I am not black.
I am not black, and thus I cannot fully fathom the terror that has come with the verdict that has been declared for Darren Wilson. I am not black, and as a result I have no need to remove my hood during the nighttime. I am not black, and I do not have rethink the way my arms move whenever I walk past a police officer. I am not black, and I do not have as much legitimate reason to suspect that my slightest move could be my last.
However, with this verdict, we have all been failed. This verdict failed African-Americans. This verdict failed hate crime survivors. This verdict failed the city of Ferguson. This verdict failed Afghanistan. This verdict failed Palestine. This verdict failed Emmett Till, and it failed Sean Bell, and it failed Trayvon Martin.
On the 24th of November, the U.S’ so-called “justice” system failed.
The verdict was not a failure in regards to figuring out who killed Michael Brown. Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. There is no doubt that he was and is the sole murderer of Michael Brown. He knows it, the jury knew it, the judge knew it.
The verdict was a failure in which it was to decide whether or not Darren Wilson was even going to trial for killing Michael Brown. They decided that, despite the evidence, despite the eyewitness accounts, despite the confession, despite the fact that Wilson compared Brown to a demon, despite the fact that murder is defined as the killing of a human being, Wilson would not even face trial. He killed an unarmed black boy in cold blood and would not go to trial. He will receive no punishment for his thieving of a young boy’s life.
It is our right to protest. It is our right to riot. However, if there is something else to fear, it would be this: that, like the L.A riots of 1991, and the Harlem riots of 1935, 1943, and 1964, a statement will be made, but no justice will be served. And thus, we will be doomed to repeat history.
We cannot keep going like this. We cannot lose another Michael Brown. We cannot have another Henry Davis. We cannot end up with another unpunished Darren Wilson.
The verdict on Darren Wilson was a failure. However, we cannot let this smother our ability to create positive change. This time around, we cannot just cause a ruckus. Unite. Be bold. Be quick. Be understanding. Be together.
We cannot keep going like this.
With this injustice has come a type of fury that raises its head only in the most outrageous of situations. It snarls, and it bites at all those who do not snarl with it. It is important, in this situation particularly, to recognize that yes, we do possess the right to riot. We not only have the right, we have the need. We have a duty to do so.
“Atticus, how could they do it, how could they?”
“I don’t know, but they did it. They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it – it seems only the children weep.”