It’s been a week, including a Thanksgiving celebration, since the outrage of the Ferguson verdict. I refused to write until now. And because much has been said, I’ve decided to focus on the compounded ironies in retrospect:
1. THE VERDICT WAS ANNOUNCED AT NIGHT, AS IF TO BEG PEOPLE TO RIOT.
Well, technically, this one isn’t an example of irony, but it is an example of absurdity.
2. THE MEDIA DECIDED TO ACT AS A JURY, NOT REPORT THE NEWS.
Notice phrases like “black on black crime.” As early as August, most media outlets chose to show a photo of Michael Brown flashing gang signs rather than the photo of his high school graduation. After all, flashing a gang sign means you’re in a gang, which makes your death less tragic. Somehow, the picture alone told you that he probably provoked his own death.
3. MILITARIZED POLICE ACCOMPLISH THE OPPOSITE OF THEIR INTENT—THEY ANTAGONIZE COMMUNITIES AND INCITE FURTHER CHAOS.
This is assuming they are intended to keep the peace in the first place.
4. MANY PROTESTERS DECIDED TO COMMIT CRIMES BECAUSE THEY WANTED JUSTICE
The logic for many was “I am so angry over injustice that I am going to rob, vandalize, and even hurt people as a result.”
5. THE CHAOS OF ARSON, LOOTING AND VIOLENCE CAUSED BY THE MOSTLY BLACK COMMUNITIES ONLY ECHOES THE CHAOS DONE TO THEM BY UNJUST WHITES
The riots and looting weren’t merely the cause of a community that doesn’t want order after seeing one verdict they didn’t like. This is a mass expression of years of piled frustration and desperation. A community that felt its voice is never heard. Those that broke the law still broke the law, but there are times when a community is so upset, carrying picket signs probably won’t happen (and white people can be guilty of this too). I mean, every day white politicians and C.E.O.’s loot the public. To quote some otherwise irrelevant opinions, “where’s the outrage?”
6. THOUSANDS OF WHITE PEOPLE SHARED CONCERNED TWEETS ASKING WHERE THE OUTRAGE WAS WHEN A WHITE COP WAS KILLED BY A BLACK MAN, THUS ANSWERING THEIR OWN QUESTION.
You can’t ask where the outrage is when countless other people are. Clearly, the outrage is right under your nose, and you are a part of it. Ask yourself honestly if competing for ethnic grieving rights really helps the situation when you’re a white person.
(Somehow this trial and verdict was seen as an appropriate time to bring up, for example, that white people didn’t protest when O.J. Simpson was found not guilty. Was O.J. a cop? Was the white person he shot part of a community damaged by poverty and crime? Was the killer a member of a privileged ethnicity, or was the victim a member of a suppressed ethnicity? And exactly how do you measure how white people behaved themselves in the wake of that 1995 verdict?)
7. MANY AMERICANS CRITICIZED THE CHAOTIC PROTESTS, ONLY TO CHAOTICALLY TRAMPLE ONE ANOTHER FOR A CHEAP CHRISTMAS GIFT ON BLACK FRIDAY.
(and no, no comments on it being called “Black Friday.” Too many people will take that in the wrong direction.)
8. MARTIN LUTHER KING’S DREAM WAS BURNED BY BOTH BLACK AND WHITE PEOPLE
White cops who chose to participate in militarization displayed a dismissal of King’s dream. Even more so, black community members who participated in chaotic protests were saying a big “f— you!” to the man arguably most responsibly for organizing and inspiring the peaceful protests at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, if white people want to complain about the blacks who rioted against King’s dream, let’s not forget that King was murdered. By white people.
9. OFFICER WILSON CHOSE TO CARRY A GUN, BUT NOT A TASER—AND STILL SAID THAT HE HAD A “CLEAR CONSCIENCE.”
We call that verbal irony.
10. Oh, and AN UNARMED MAN WAS SHOT BY A COP IN THE STREETS, THE COP WAS FOUND INNOCENT BY A JURY, AND THE JURY SOMEHOW STILL CARRIES THE LABEL “GRAND.”
Let’s not forget that this was what made people the most upset about the trial. Not only was a policeman acquitted for shooting an unarmed black man, but the decision was the result of a grand jury.
But where does that lead us? Pile up these ironies, and the grand irony is that a country “founded on freedom” still suffers from its original sin of slavery, that the premiere “melting pot” of the world is still racially polarized, that despite our claims to progress, we still have a long way to go.
But there is hope. There’s hope because there was a time when Martin Luther King was shot and everyone thought things would get worse.
There’s hope because Darren Wilson resigned.
There’s hope because of this picture.
Maybe one day the irony will be that a country built on ethnically justified slavery will actually become the premiere most ethnically peaceful nation in the world.
Ironically, I see all this, and I still have hope.