Hands Up Will Still Get You Shot

Racial profiling just got another stamp of approval. That’s not justice.

I am beyond words after reading the coverage of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, this past week. I’m brought back to the anger and deep sadness I felt when the Trayvon Martin verdict came down in favor of his shooter (the photo here is from the march that followed the verdict in New York City). I’m reminded of the disbelief and outrage I felt when Black Hurricane Katrina victims were called “looters” while white victims engaging in the same act — gathering supplies from local stores and businesses during a horrific emergency — were called “survivors.” I think of the shock and taste the bile in my mouth from the first time I saw the truck that drives around local communities near where I live flying a confederate flag as big as a bed sheet.

What is wrong with (white) people??

[And in case you’re wondering: yes, I fall into the ‘white’ category. And yes, I still believe this question needs to be asked, despite how uncomfortable it makes both me and some people I hold dear.]

My thoughts aren’t flowing out of me academically and aren’t even quite fully formed, but as I read and process more, and the rage percolates just beneath the surface of my skin and my eyes, I know one thing for sure: we can’t be silent on this. Michael Brown is just one of many innocent victims of a system that isn’t working — a system that, as my friend and colleague Nelson Flores puts it in a phrase borrowed from Jonathan Rosa, exercises a “fundamental disposability of black and brown bodies.”

Michael Brown died because of racism.

An old friend of mine used to say, during the days of the Iraq war protests when anti-Bush sentiment grew in leaps and bounds in this country, “we’re sitting on a powder keg, and it’s just a matter of time before something wakes us up.”

Well, that was almost 10 years ago, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be woken up, America. Something’s gotta give. As long as we stay silent on the ways in which patriarchal, white supremacy plays a role in dictating both the explicit and tacit policies that guide our society, we play a part in allowing what’s wrong to be right.

I stand in solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. No justice, no peace!


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