Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Sound and Fury of Ferguson, Missouri

I'm reading the papers about the 'fight for justice' in Ferguson. I look at these heroic titles and feel uneasy. There doesn't appear to be any organized movement on the ground to sustain anything of substance. The work that needs to be done in the black community by black people isn't happening. The injustices continue of police violence and brutality, but there is no corrective course in the long-term. This just feels like an exercise in anger expiation.

Over twenty years ago there was the Rodney King verdict, which triggered riots across the country. The media talked about race for a few weeks, some trees were planted in destroyed neighborhood, vague promises were made. I was in middle school and sat through the tension. It was a perfect time to be angry. I wasn't Buddhist, in fact I wasn't really anything accept myself at the time. Anger seemed to be the trend of the moment, something to attach myself to for community. Viscerally I felt thoroughly disgusted. It seemed like everyone was relishing in the anger without actually doing anything. In that moment I had mutual disdain for all parties. Highland Oaks Middle School organized a rally in the auditorium. I asked what was order of the event. A teacher told me that students would be allowed to express themselves. I immediately asked if I could skip this event and do homework instead. I didn't want to sit and listen to anyone tell me there feelings who was ill-informed, angry, and just wanting to vent. I was 12 years old at the time. I excused myself from the rally and went to Spanish class. I was the only black person who didn't attend the rally. When I asked my fellow students what happened, they said it was just a lot of screaming. I was glad to have missed out on that waste of time and energy.

These Orwellian rage sessions just seem to be about harnessing fury into pocket-sized events where people can exhaust themselves into numbness. I have been politically active since I was a child but I have avoided most anti-hate rally, anti-rape rally, most war protests. I find them patronizing acts of the least educated and loudest selection of the population. In Ferguson this feels like a repeat of the 'rage sessions' for the under-informed and inactive masses of oppressed who passively allow themselves to be pushed around. As someone who has pride in my race and country, I feel embarrassed that the vast majority of us continue to act like unthinking mobs of serfs roaming to and fro, looking for the next event to be outraged at without ever DOING anything to change the situation.

Only 15-20% of of eligible adults in Ferguson vote. Its representatives, police, and councilmen look, act, think differently from most of the residents. The black population stands at 65-70%. And a pathetically small amount vote. There is no organizations in place to address this issue. Black leaders seem to be posing for selfies and giving speeches. There appears to be no concept of what actually makes change happen. Stop marching and start voting. Sustained goals burns brighter and than abrupt anger.  Vote, vote, vote. Organize around voting blocks.

This is very un-PC but I don't want to hear about the great 'fight for justice' when 80% of the of the adult population chooses to not take part in the actual thing which could change their situation on the ground. Blacks fought long and hard to obtain the right to vote and this generation has just thrown it all away.

Everywhere I've gone in this world I have encountered racism but I've also usually encountered programs to address inequalities. And I often find myself among the rare and few who take advantage of these opportunities, who stands in line to vote, who makes the bare minimum effort to be an informed citizen. I'm tired of seeing educated blacks go along with these futile acts when they know what must be done. I'm tired of seeing black leaders posing for photo ops when they should be organizing long-term strategic thinking. I'm of the loudest being praised when they're often the most passive in allowing the continued oppression. I'm tired of seeing cases like Michael Brown flash on screens without anything constructive being done to address the systemic problems in our society.

I fear that Ferguson will just be another angry flare-up, a bronzed footnote of anger that's all sound and fury, but signifying nothing. 

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