In the hours leading up to the Grand Jury’s decision on whether or not Darren Wilson would be indicted for Michael Brown’s murder, I was nauseated and anxious. I, like many, many others, hoped that tonight would be different.
108 days after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager was shot multiple times from a distance of approximately 150ft by a white police officer, am I surprised that Darren Wilson was not indicted?
And it doesn’t make me feel any less nauseated.
History has taught us a that the lives of people of colour do not matter. Canada and the United States were founded on the enslavement of black folks and the purposeful genocide of Indigenous peoples. The history of our nations were founded on the lives of people of colour who did not matter to the white politicians and bureaucrats who were colonizing these lands. These millions of deaths did not matter.
The life of Michael Brown like so many other black men and youth before him does not matter, based on the Grand Jury’s decision. Every 28 hours a black man will be shot and killed by either a white cop or a white vigilante.
Reflect on that statistic. Reflect on how history is constantly repeating. Reflect on the noxious justice systems in the “best countries in the world”. Reflect on how if these were white men and youth I would not be writing this fucking post.
Now think about who was on this Grand Jury: out of twelve people, nine were white and three were black. 25% percent of the jury was comprised of black folks when 67% of the population of Ferguson is black.
How many people were needed to indict Wilson? Nine.
You know fucking well what happened here. You know fucking well why this was the outcome.
The colonizing mentality that “founded” Canada and the United States is no different than when Canada entered Dominion or the Declaration of Independence was signed. White supremacy reins supreme as it has for more than 500 years.
But remember, we live in a post-racial society in North America (and a multicultural one in Canada, full of rainbows and unicorns and love for everyone). This has to just be coincidence. But it isn’t. History, our friend, demonstrates that this is just another day.
One thing I need to think about, as a white, middle class, dis/abled* cisfemale is that it is A FUCKING PRIVILEGE OF ME TO BE DISGUSTED BY THIS AND NOT TERRIFIED FOR MY LIFE OR THAT OF MY FAMILY. Let me repeat that: I am privileged that this decision does not make me worry about my own safety.
Over the last few days, an article has been widely shared on social media platforms, wherein a high school teacher uses paper, a wastepaper basket, and their students’ seating arrangement to teach the concept of privilege. Students closest to the basket had the greatest likelihood at getting their crumpled up ball of paper into the bin: this is a metaphor for how privilege works.
The article ends with the following words from the teacher:
“Your job — as students who are receiving an education — is to be aware of your privilege. And use this particular privilege called “education” to do your best to achieve great things, all the while advocating for those in the rows behind you.”
Despite my being a woman and dis/abled* I still have a lot of privilege in society. My whiteness gives me some measure of safety.
My whiteness also means that I have the responsibility to use my privilege to make things better for those do not have as much, as what the teacher (and my teachers – formal and informal) stated.
How do we do that? Restitution and decolonization.
The time is right (now). “Keep hope alive.”
R.I.P. Michael Brown, you will not be forgotten.
* I’m still not sure how to describe myself. Sometimes I’m quite dis/abled while others I am very able-bodied. This is a work in progress for me.