Aside from my last post, I’ve been trying to think of ways to help, art or paintings that could describe what is happening in America, especially those things that were brought to the forefront by the senseless shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri. After saying on a tweet, that painting just isn’t enough to describe the feelings and thoughts I have about this, a new wonderful friend on twitter said to write about it, to convey it through writing and I said I would do it.
And, I will but it is harder than I thought it would be. My mind reels with anger that my world is like this, that another person was young and shot by police despite being unarmed, that my beliefs in the principles and rights afforded by my nation are no more than a lie. And, even though I knew that in a way – I just couldn’t bear to believe it so my experiences with being denied rights, violations of my rights and freedoms, being brutalized and hurt by police wrongfully, being excluded from any real economic opportunity throughout years upon years upon years, it was easier to believe that had to all be me than the other.
It is certainly some of both but until now, although in the back of my mind I kept thinking maybe there was something very wrong happening in the United States, it was easier to blame myself than to consider the reality of what that is which is so wrong in my country.
When, a few days ago, I heard of what happened to Michael Brown, there was a hurt that I couldn’t describe, that I couldn’t put my words to express, but so deep and expansive even though I didn’t understand it. When other police incidents have happened, taking away the lives of those who were wrongfully killed, wrongfully bullied by police, wrongfully treated, abused by police, shot to death by them, I’ve felt the same thing but turned away from the feeling rather than trying to understand it. The thought, “Why?” with its greatest depth of horror was all I could touch of it.
This isn’t that I don’t know, I do but don’t want to. I can feel it because I’ve seen it and experienced it. What I can’t seem to do is know what catchy slogan or artsy painting could possibly describe it. Those just don’t do the describing of it with any effectiveness for me. There is something else in it that those things fail to describe. The essence is something human, and something spiritual that is not human within me that says, about Michael Brown’s death and too many others like it – there is a profound wrongness about it that is as much my fault as it is every other person alive today in America.
But there’s more to it than that for me. When a wrong happens which so completely betrays and cheats the trust we give to police, and similar authority figures, it is somehow more horrific, exponentially deeper in its wrongness. And when it happened to me, those feelings of horror as that trust was broken simply won’t be sorted out. What did Michael Brown feel those last moments as his every dream was taken away with his very life by someone charged with protecting human decency, human life and every part of the community? What did he know, did he know what I know about the contempt for his life coming from the man whose bullets were ripping through him when he meant to do no more than follow along through his day as any other day?
There is something vile about police officers showing such contempt for people’s lives, and that police show such disgust for the communities they are there to serve and keep safe. There is a trauma I felt when it happened to me at the hands of police that moves between horror and disbelief – did that young man feel that too with his last view of his neighborhood around him? No safety, no help, no help coming, no one coming to make it right, no one to say its wrong to do this and stop police from doing it, no one standing up and saying that it isn’t right, no one believing that the person they’ve done it to is worth anything or ever would have been anyway and no one to say that is wrong.
But this is America. But this is America.