Initial Reflections on Ferguson

This is take three.

This blog post has been incredibly hard to write, because it has been weighing heavily on my mind for the past few days.  I have tried to plan it out, and tried to write from an objective standpoint, but it has proven impossible because I’m so emotionally invested in the topic.  So, I guess all that I can do is be true to myself and share my views as they come to me.

We may not all agree here, which is totally fine.  The whole purpose of connecting to one another is to share our perceptions.  Somewhere, among all the voices, the truth will emerge.  Thus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my reflections.

What happened to Michael Brown is a tragedy.  A young life was cut way too short.  At its core, there is a fundamental question of human rights left lingering.  An unarmed 18-year-old died at the hands of an officer of the law.  That alone should raise eyebrows.  There are even more layers to this story, a large one being that four unarmed black males were killed by police officers last month.  When we add race to the equation, emotions automatically come into play, since it is generally a taboo to discuss.  I ask why?  As you will see later, some of the best conversations I’ve had have been those when we addressed “taboo topics,” coming from a place of mutual respect.  But I digress.

What is happening in Ferguson is a tragedy.  In my opinion, the local government is handling it totally wrong, every single step of the way.  The disorganization and incompetence is mind-blowing, and frankly, quite disrespectful.  (I have many thoughts on what’s been going on, but I can’t seem to do them justice.  I may revisit this topic from another angle in the near future.)

So where do we go from here?  Things need to change fast, because our society is at a boiling point.  I’m troubled because I feel helpless, as I sit idly by, armed with only a laptop.  I’ve realized that the only thing I can do is speak my mind and encourage others to do the same.  We all have a voice, and can choose to use it however we see fit.

I am obviously a black woman.  Does that give me the onus of writing about Ferguson, while others must remain silent?  Absolutely not.  I am not writing this post “just because [I am] black.”  I’m writing it because I am a human being, who is enraged over the treatment of another human being, and subsequent disrespect to an entire city.  The First Amendment gives us all the right to share our views in a peaceful way, although it is currently being denied to the people of Ferguson between midnight and 5 am.  Yes, I have experienced my fair share of prejudice and discrimination.  That doesn’t make me an expert on the situation in Ferguson.  But, it certainly does make me more emotionally connected.

That being said, no one has to speak if they choose not to.  We all have our reasons on why we choose to speak or remain silent about any given topic.  However, my hope is that as educators, we do something.  This may come in many forms.  Some educators blog, some take to Twitter, and some may just give students a safe space to share their questions and concerns.  These are all great ways that we can help our students (and ourselves) process what’s going on.

The last class I took in a brick-and-mortar building was about the running of teacher preparation programs.  In this course, we spoke about many different things, many of them “taboo topics” such as race, gender, and economics.  The composition of the class was mostly white, mostly women, mostly upper-middle class…very similar to the overall demographics of the university.  Although it appeared from the outside to be mostly homogenous, there was such a diverse array of backgrounds, experiences, and opinions within those walls.  We all learned so much from each other, and it was definitely one of my favorite courses.

The beauty of this class was that we were all able to share our stories in a safe place, without judgment.  We would have open, honest conversations about our own experiences, and brainstorm ways to best meet the needs of all students.  I left the class with three take-aways that I would like to share today with my PLN:

  1. Everyone has a unique experience, but the more you listen to individuals, the more you understand the world as a whole.
  2. The more you speak your truth, the more you learn about yourself, and others.
  3. We are all different, but we are all one.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to process and “speak my truth.”  Please feel free to comment, as I look forward to hearing your (constructive) thoughts as well.

4 thoughts on “Initial Reflections on Ferguson

  1. People come together, because it is easier to work together in groups, big and small. Two kids clear a table faster than one. A family gathers the vegetables from the garden than just the one.

    But in working together, we also figure out ways in which to do things. And be them informal ways, for written down, codified rules, that’s part of what we do as humans. These give us the patters than our brains look for. It’s part of how we as humans function.

    But in working as groups, as our groups get bigger, we sometimes look to some – selected, appointed, chosen, or even self-anointed – to help enforce those rules. Enforce. Not adjudicate, just enforce. Well, at least in American society, there’s a line between those two components, because I acknowledge that this isn’t the case everywhere.

    I think this is what bothers me the most about Ferguson. That simple role, of enforcing the rules and ways that we have all agreed upon, is nothing like the role being played by the law enforcement community. And to think, that the people who are the basis for those roles, and the source of appointment for the law enforcement powerbase, aren’t able to ask what has happened, when one of their own has been shot and killed? That’s unacceptable. Wildly unacceptable.

    These are very basic ideas, no different than addressed in the writing found in ancient Greece I am unclear why civic and law enforcement officials are having a hard time with it today in MO.

    1. Art, I totally agree. The way this situation is being “handled” by law enforcement is a disgrace. Today, I saw some primary source footage taken moments after the shooting, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is ridiculous and a travesty.

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