Michael Brown’s execution in Ferguson, Missouri, by police officer Darren Wilson presented a national learning platform. The facts are rather simple: two young black men were walking in the street and were approached by a cop. An altercation occurred. An unarmed Michael Brown ran away. Officer Darren Wilson pursued him, pumping at least six bullets into Michael Brown, including two in the head.
Who was the violent person here showing a propensity to kill indiscriminately?
Because of their lived experience, most black and brown people were not shocked by this occurrence. The empathy and reality-based understanding of many white people were not shocked by this occurrence either. Sadly, that empathy and reality-based understanding seem to only occur in 37 percent of white people.
One must ask the simple question: Why? Most human beings are good people. Most human beings want to be fair. Most importantly, most human beings want to survive—and they want to survive in comfort and security. In an unequal world in which a particular class extracts most of the wealth from a society, peons are made to fight for what is left.
More below the fold.
The method of aggregate selection enforced by the puppeteers is easily manipulated via racial differences. If one can make that different race an "other," then it is not difficult to build a complete narrative around it. The narrative is that black and brown people are violent and lazy and one must protect themselves from them.
Of course, very few whites understand the systemic denial of comparable access to wealth and success afforded to them simply on the basis of their skin color. The following snippet from Judy Helfand is probative:
Newly freed African Americans, denied any opportunities to own land in the South, turned to the new territories of Kansas, Indiana, and Illinois. Many thousand immigrated and found places for themselves, although most did not have the financial resources necessary to homestead. The immigration was organized into a movement. At its peak 98,000 African Americans were planning to immigrate. Faced with the loss of their workforce, the Southern planters moved to prevent the exodus. They used a combination of murder, threat, harassment, and denial of passage across the Mississippi. On the other end, whites prevented the Black immigrants from landing or drove them out of town. Southern whites and other white immigrants moving into the territories were not bothered, demonstrating that it was not a lack of land that prompted the hostility to Black settlers but an aversion to living among Black settlers as equals. The right of homesteading was to remain a white privilege, enforced through white violence. Northern commercial interests also wanted to retain black labor for the south.Why is this mentioned in piece about media misrepresentation about black men? The answer is simple. First, it is important to understand the genesis of conditions. Secondly, it is important to note that in most of the discourse, these realities are rarely covered in the media.
The response to this horrific event, as CNN's Candy Crowley put it, is a placebo conversation. It makes one feel good that the issue is being addressed. Jesse Williams correctly puts the onus on the media for their coverage of black and brown people in a "less than" manner. It makes their treatment antiseptic in nature. How is it that a dead black kid's body left on the street in the hot sun for hours is not a huge story of desecration to another human being?
What is left out of the discussion is that consciously or unconsciously, the media has been an effective tool. It's used to demonize "others"—and specifically black and brown men, and serves an important purpose in our society—to prevent harmonious integration of all people. Darren Wilson is just a hateful scared pawn in the game. As my friend, minister Charlotte Vaughan Coyle, puts it:
When fear and prejudice is given a gun, it’s not just our children who are in danger; it’s all of us. But when this kind of fear is given both a gun and a badge then – yes - it is high time for prophetic challenge and peaceful protest.Remember, it is the emulsification of oil and water that is feared most by those in power, because they require our division to retain that undeserved.
And so in the meantime, while we watch and wait for the vision to become reality, things continue to be painful, messy and chaotic. Maybe one reason why is because the oil and water of fear and hope continue to keep us fragmented - both within our society and within each of us. Maybe because we are all at the same time good and bad, light and dark, hopeful and fearful.
The media is but one of their tools—but a most effective one.