By Matthew Patton
Ferguson is all over the place. Let’s just get that out there, front and center and out of the way.
The events that are happening in this town of 21,000 people are a microcosm of the country. Lost in much of the discussion of how and why it happened and why it keeps happening is that this is nothing new. Not at all.
Ask just about anyone that has grown up as a minority citizen and they’ll tell you. Not due to any traumatic personal experiences, but in the confines of our own homes and communities the unspoken truth of American history is told.
How this country came to be what it is and how it came to be seen as the pillar of strength the whole world should endeavor to be like.
A beacon of moral integrity that has the cache to wag its finger at other nations with civil unrest while it stands tall upon the graves of Native Americans sacrificed to build it or the Chinese that built its railroads.
I could keep going, but look at that pillar of America: doesn’t it stand tall?
Down here at the ground level, where American minorities have been perpetually held in check in a variety of ways, that pillar indeed looks tall.
The herculean climb that pillar represents to us seems to get even higher every time we think “we’re making progress,” each step marked by some sort of socioeconomic disturbance, many times accompanied by some sort of racial divide.
Previous instances have been marked by names of victims like Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and City College student Alejandro Nieto. When heard, these names will likely invoke some negative feelings towards this government that has not done its job of protecting its citizens.
These markers all have themes of the demonization of the dead, the guns constantly aimed (and fired) at Black/Latino citizens for no readily apparent reason and the lack of accountability and punishment for the perpetuators of these deaths.
And one of the greatest rubs to all of this is you’ll have people tell us that the rioting, looting and lashing out (which I’m not endorsing) is unjustified. Unjustified? According to who?
When a community of people have been systematically under attack for generations by the people that are supposed to be looking out for them, what other recourse do you think they’ll take? And I don’t want to hear about Martin Luther King Jr.
He benefited greatly from Malcom X, whose contrasting militant presence forced government to choose between him or MLK. And history has shown which way the government went.
No, look at what sparked the riots in Detroit and Los Angeles. It’s bad enough we hold all this in and carry on with our daily lives when markers like Mike Brown are etched into our history.
It’s bad enough that we have to follow the adage of being twice as good to get half as much. But now we’re condemned for lashing out? Now we’re giving justification to the ignorant to call us “animals” for hitting our boiling point and collectively saying “to hell with this?”
I don’t condone looting and rioting, but I don’t condemn it in these circumstances, either. And while that may come off like I’m straddling the fence on that (I am), let’s be clear. It hasn’t mattered one iota whether or not those citizens in Ferguson showed themselves to be peaceful protestors (which is what they’ve dominantly been), or violent instigators.
Those Ferguson authorities were going to do what they had to do in order to facilitate the blatant cover up that’s been going on since Twitter brought this to mainstream America.
And while it does make me happy on some level to see so many people in the media rightly outraged at the sheer volume of nonsense that’s taking place in little old Ferguson, it’s really nothing new. Tragic as it is, I just look at that shiny pillar and keep on trying to climb up.