For the last several days I have been trying to gather my thoughts regarding the shooting death of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson. I’ve made several attempts to make them line up into something articulate; but I have failed and they remain frenetic, incoherent, and emotional.
My first thought when I first saw the breaking news was, “What? I give up. I quit you, America.”
Since I can’t actually do that, I’m hoping the multiple conversations that have been sparked by these events will build momentum and bear real fruit. I hope we are able to make it impossible for policy makers to pass the buck or sweep it under the rug. And I worry that our collective inertia — and denial from certain quarters — will eventually drag the momentum down. I hope not.
I see the vicious cycle of media representation playing out in these events in all its grotesque glory. The dominant narrative that young black men are “thugs” surely played into the officer’s decision to shoot in the first place. And still, there is that narrative being played, getting air time, valiantly attempting to paint Mike Brown as a “thug” too; despite all evidence to the contrary, despite eyewitness accounts that he was unarmed and surrendering when he was shot, despite the fact that petty theft, even if true, in no way warrants an execution in response.
Victim-blaming is a diversionary tactic. It’s a way to avoid dealing with real problems.
There is not much I can add that hasn’t already been said more intelligently, more articulately, elsewhere by someone else. So here’s a few of the best:
- This Is Why We’re Mad About the Shooting of Mike Brown
- Police attempt to suppress the news media:
- Media narrative: Young black men are “thugs”:
- Victim-blaming and diversionary tactics
- Militarization of the police
And I’ll leave you with this brilliant, scathing, and emotional castigation by John Oliver: