Growing up, I never really felt bullied. There was a kid in grade school who would throw shots, but it was always playful and I’d return fire as we’d joke and talk trash to each other. My elementary school was one of the most diverse in a town, which is reality wasn’t and still isn’t very diverse at all. It wasn’t until middle school that I can remember an incident that could be considered bullying. It was winter after football was over and I was in the weight room. Two older kids made some remark; I can’t remember exactly what they said, but it was definitely a racial slur. At that moment I brushed it off. To this day I regret letting their slur slide though. What I should’ve done is walked up to them and thrown a punch. I was outnumbered and probably would’ve gotten beat up, but I still never should’ve let them get away with that. It would have only given them fuel to continue to do it to someone else later.
What is happening in Ferguson, MO, and throughout the country this week is the signal that people are finally fed up with allowing things to slide. Regarding the murder of Michael Brown, what we do know is some scuffle occurred at Officer Wilson’s vehicle. Two shots were fired. Brown ran away, stopped, and turned around. 10 or more bullets were fired and six or seven of those hit Brown. Brown died while his body, bleeding out for hours, lay on Canfield Drive.
Whatever the circumstances, whether Brown "charged" Officer Wilson or not is in question. And yet last night we were told that his murder doesn’t even deserve a trial. A trial where questions and arguments could be brought up. Where cross-examination could have happened. We were force-fed a decision and there’s nothing that can be done about it. People in Ferguson responded with anger. Anger that has been building up for months. I’ve seen folks on social media criticizing how people in Ferguson have responded. You cannot criticize someone’s reactions when you have never been in their situation. People weren’t upset that their hockey team lost or that a seasonal festival ran out of pumpkins. They were upset that once again one of their own had been murdered by an authority figure and they continue to be told that their sons’ lives don't matter. Trayvon Martin’s murder was the alarm clock going off. Several hit the snooze button. When Darren Wilson let off the barrage of bullets into Michael Brown is when those people finally seem to be waking up.
Today I feel empty. I’m not interested in discussing music today. I’m not interested in eating. I have CNN on in the background and although it’s the same fragments of information constantly being repeated, I can’t change the channel. If this is how I feel and I’m nine hours away from St. Louis County, I cannot begin to fathom how the residents there must feel. What I can feel comfort in is that in two days I’ll be with my family, without interruptions from the outside world. My nieces and nephew, all below the age of eight, will be there and they'll be happy. I'll be completely sheltered and only focused on turkey and stuffing. I’ll cherish my time with them because there are several mothers, fathers, uncles, and grandmothers who won’t get to have a plate with their loved ones.
And then, on Friday, the daily grind will go back to normal again but the emptiness that lingers in our hearts will still be there. Some things you can't let slide.