I was at dinner with friends the night the Zimmerman verdict was announced, making plans for the rest of the evening. It was between bites that Twitter informed me about the jury’s decision, and my appetite and resolve that justice would be served evaporated in the same breath. We didn’t go out that night.
Mike Brown, an unarmed 17-year-old, was gunned down by police Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri — a city not far from where I was born and the place where I spent my summers as a child. A recent high school graduate and otherwise unassuming resident of Ferguson, he’s become yet another addition to a growing list of innocent Black people who’ve had their lives taken at the hands of a government organization whose creed is “to protect and serve.”
I wish I was writing to you from a place charged with an impassioned call to arms. I want nothing more than to have the answers. Or even just the right questions. But I’m empty-handed. And numb.
This numbness I feel is an unwelcomed and disturbing harbinger of the bitter truth that this won’t end anytime soon. Not even a month since the murder of Eric Garner and here we are, forced to bury another one of our sons while the earth covering the last is still settling.
To those who have gathered their strength to rally and demand action, I commend your efforts and am willing to give whatever is needed, but brooding underneath is a feeling of helplessness stirred by the familiarity of being right back where we started. Mobilizing resources to those on the scene, raising awareness by hashtagging the conversation about the events, it’s as if we’ve perfected a crisis plan for dealing with this type of tragedy, but going through these motions again is breaking my heart.
I contemplated whether our parents and grandparents experienced these types of moments, this numbness in the face of a seemingly insurmountable force. Assuming they must have, the only solace I’ve found is in knowing that despite what must have looked like a journey into an even darker night, they pressed on. They fought and prayed until things changed. And this gives me a resolve; reminding me that I need to work through the numbness and press through that feeling of helplessness because, well, I have no other choice. I need to do this. There’s work to be done.
When news broke of the murder of Mike Brown, I was deciding where I wanted to spend my evening. I didn’t go out that night, but I woke up the next morning with a renewed hunger for results that shifted me out of a paralyzing fear and into a feeling of purpose. I need to do this. There’s work to be done.