This is a partial reblog from the important By Their Strange Fruit blog. You can read about their mission here: http://bytheirstrangefruit.blogspot.com/p/about-us.html
The post is a work in progress which attempts to aggregate the events related to Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO and then provide thoughtful and challenging questions which require us all to examine ourselves.
The criminalization of black bodies plays into this.
This is reflected in fact that Michael Brown can be on trial for his own murder. That the surveillance videos can be used to imply that his murder was justified. White mass murderers can be arrested, but a black boy will be shot on sight for walking in the street. Black victims will have their criminal records examined, their academic grades questioned, their parental upbringing challenged. It requires overcoming tremendous odds to prove to public opinion that a black victim should not have been killed.
Earlier this month, John Crawford III was killed while holding a toy gun in a Walmart in Ohio (an open carry state). He called out “it’s not real,” but it didn’t matter. Meantime, white folk walk through Target with real assault rifles. And can you imagine what would happen if the protestors in Ferguson showed up like these guys? The double standard is extreme. And it’s costing lives. The media and police can’t (won’t) different between black/Brown bodies and this peacefully protesting. Will you?
White media bias plays into this.
Newsrooms are overwhelmingly white. Given well-established white undereducation about race, what makes us think they are qualified to cover these stories? Many are quick to suggest a black reporter might be biased. That itself reveals our own prejudice. Because dominant society considers a white perspective to be a ‘default’ and neutral stance, half the story is missing.
Social media is often deemed untrustworthy, but this how most of the videos, images, and evidence is coming from. When mainstream media went home, or was turned away, online is where we heard what was going on. These platforms allowed individuals to get the word out, by providing access and amplification of Black voices.
History plays into this.
All of this has happened before. The immediate reaction of the police to use riot gear and German Shepherds demonstrates the gross and callous insensitivity of the Ferguson police. And it has all been explained before (see Tupac Shakur and Malcolm X–the latter’s example played out again almost exactly in Ferguson in 2009). When Civil Rights history is glossed over in white schools and white society, the result is an uninformed, uncontextualized view of current events. We perpetuate the same violence we have been committing against Black neighborhoods for decades. This is the context. It’s this sort of police behavior that Black citizens of #Ferguson have dealt w 4 yrs. And then Brown was murdered
White silence plays into this.
If your family, community, or church has not consistently done the works of discussing and dismantling systems of racism, do not be shocked when events like these occur or when white churches stay silent. How many white onlookers felt Brown’s murder was being blown out of proportion? How many saw the protests as an overreaction? After so many calls ‘to wait for the facts,’ from sources white folks could ‘trust’ (read: non-black sources), it turned out the facts were even worse than we feared. The more we hear the worse it gets. And in the meantime the citizens of Ferguson have been struggling on their own.
Drew Hart reminds us (through Dietrich Bonhoeffer) that “the church was mute when it should have cried out, because the blood of the innocent cried out to heaven.” Instead of sanctimoniously saying “wait, wait” (as the white clergy did in Birmingham), listen to the lived experiences of black folk that tell us the reality of the world in which we live.
Read more here: By Their Strange Fruit