An Open Letter To The People Of Ferguson: We Have Your Back

ferguson missouri

"This isn't fair."

That was the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about the murder of Michael Brown. It felt like a childish response, but it was all I could muster in that moment. But the truth was, then, on the night of August 9th, 2014, and still today, almost two weeks later, that this isn't fair.

"This isn't right." 

That was the second thing that came to my mind when I heard about Michael Brown. Perhaps less childish in its declaration than one that weighs what's fair in life and what is not, but the sentiment is still the same: What happened in Ferguson, Missouri that night was wrong.

The face of the United States is emblazoned with the scars of racism. No two scars are the same, nor is one more significant than the other. Each one represents how this country has failed the African American community. Michael Brown's murder is still bleeding on the face of this country. It's still raw, like a wound that someone can't stop picking at because they can't believe it's even there in the first place. I don't want this wound to heal; I don't want it to scar; I want it to remain fresh so it never happens again. But that's wishful thinking. As Americans, we need to give up on wishful thinking; that's kids' stuff. 

The reality is we are a racist country. We are a racist people. We place value on one color over another. We can try to delude ourselves into thinking otherwise, but after you linger on the topic long enough, pour over the history books, both past and present, you'll end up back in the same place: Racism is alive and well in the United States of America. And its latest victim was an 18-year-old young black man named Michael Brown, who took six gunshot wounds to the body from a 28-year-old white police officer named Darren Wilson. This goes way beyond what's fair; it shouldn't even have to dabble with being right or wrong, because it's so obvious. What this is is an atrocity. This wasn't just an attack on one person, or one town in Missouri; this was an attack on our entire nation.

Ferguson, we all lost Michael Brown that night. And, in the process, we lost even more of what dwindling humanity, faith, and hope that remains within us all. So much died on August 9th, so much that could have been saved and protected, if only race wasn’t such an inherent part of the fabric of this country. It's a shameful truth, but a truth that, if we deny it, will result in another Michael Brown, one more Trayvon Martin, or another Rodney King. When Darren Wilson chose to rob Michael Brown of his life, he chose to put another bullet in the hole in the already vulgar and embarrassing relationship the United States has with racism. We all make choices, and Wilson chose wrong. This stops now.

Residents of Ferguson, we can hear you. We can see you. The whole world is watching with the same angry voices rising into the air and the same open palms that say, "Hands up, don't shoot!" We've all had enough, and no matter what comes of this, we are forever on your side. If history has taught us anything: murderers (especially white cops who murder) often walk away unscathed. History proves that Darren Wilson may never see the inside of a courtroom, no matter how many nights you take to the streets to protest. 

But, from one corner of this world, I want to tell you that we have your back. We believe that every night you scream out in fury and despair at a country that refuses to see all people as equal and just as worthy as the next, you are making an impact. Even those who try to turn a blind eye have no choice, but to stop and pay attention. You have everyone's attention.

Racism is an evil human trait that is taught. No one comes into this world with guns blazing, ready to hate someone simply because of the color of their skin, but yet here, in 2014, this is still an epidemic. We have yet to fully evolve into a people that are superior to such an inane reason for hatred. Michael Brown is the very proof of that painful reality. 

So, residents of Ferguson, you need to rise above those who hate you. You need not fight fire with fire, because you're better than that. You're better than all the Darren Wilsons of the world. Continue to be loud, continue to be unwavering in your demand for justice, and know that you are not alone on this one. While most of us aren't there at your side, as I've said, we have your back. You're constantly in our minds, in our hearts, and on our lips. We are with you.

In the words of a man far more eloquent than myself, "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality … I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." Dr. King knew a thing or two about racism, died at the hand of it himself, but it was his faith in the human spirit for which he'll always be remembered.

I have faith in you, people of Ferguson. While my faith in the United States Justice System is shaky, I have faith in the power words and demonstration. I have faith in the hope that none of this will have been in vain, and clearer skies are ahead.