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    Posted August 15, 2014 by
    Atlanta, Georgia
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    Mike Brown and our Culture


    On Saturday, another unarmed, young black man was murdered due to police brutality. According to witnesses, Mike Brown, 18, raised his hands in the air to show he was unarmed and was shot 8 times, at least once in the back, by an unnamed officer. This incident happened in Ferguson, MO. There have been countless demonstrations throughout the country and the city of Ferguson is currently the poster child of what a Police State looks like.


    I wanted to wait and write something about this, mainly due to being so angry about it. That anger, however, has not really subsided. I have been praying. I have been calling congresswomen and men. And now I am writing about my anger over this.


    I’m angry over the fact that, apparently the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Donald Johnson, Duane Brown, Angelo Clark, Steven Rodriguez, Christopher Kissane, Atwain White, Stephon Watts, Remarley Graham, Manuel Loggins Jr., Johnnie Kamahi Warren, Raymond Allen, Justin Sipp, Dante Price, Melvin Lawhord, Bo Morrison, Nehemiah Dillard, Wendell Allen, Michael Lembhard, Marquez Smart, Jersey Green, Robert Dumas Jr., Kendrec Lavelle McDade, Ervin Jefferson, Sheron Jackson, Tendai Nhekairo, Rekia Boyd, (and the list goes on; this is just the list from 01/2012-03/2012!), were simply not enough unarmed black men and women that needed to be killed by either mandated police officers or those who thought a neighborhood watch was their own private police force – we had to add another to the long, long list.
    And if this isn’t enough, where will it end?


    We had pundits and politicians claim that “racism is dead!” because we now have a “black” president. Is that so? Well, allow me to be one of the many who retort.


    According to @OccupytheMob, one response towards Mike Brown’s death was:


    “[Black people] are feral and violent. They murder each other. They murder their unborn babies. They murder white people. They hate police officers and murder some of them, even black ones. They destroy neighbors and entire cities with garbage and drugs. They live their lives off the hard-earned tax dollars of other Americans. Yet somehow they are the victims. What insanity is that?” (https://twitter.com/occupythemob/status/499718454778142722/photo/1)


    Sadly, I do not believe this is the exception to the rule; I think this is actually how a good percentage of the white and privileged in our nation secretly feel about anyone with darker skin. Look at the lies that were created about our black sisters and brothers during the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. We heard reports that there were mass stabbings at the football arena and that they were on their roofs, shooting at rescue helicopters. These stories spread like wildfire throughout our nation’s papers, but Reuters and AP eventually had to write a “correction” to these fabrications; corrections that ended up buried on the bottom of page 6. As a former firefighter who constantly heard racist remarks come from fellow firefighters, you better believe that this type of racism is alive and well within the ranks of other public safety departments – including the police. It’s a severely ugly reality that so many of us view blacks as “animals” that, when not restrained by the “good, moral white-created society”, they regress to a “feral and violent” behavior.


    So, racism is alive and well. We deny it and we fight back against it because it harms our privileged lifestyles that we and our forbearers have created for ourselves off the backs of slavery, genocide, and oppression. Turn on the news, pick up a paper. See how much “airtime” Ferguson, MO is getting right now. I’ll save you some time: a blurb. As my friend pointed out this morning, “This morning on NPR, Ferguson, MO got about 20 seconds of coverage – a U.S. city that is under apartheid-like martial law, and it gets 20 seconds!”


    Let me repeat that: 20 seconds from a news source to report on what is going on in Ferguson, MO; martial law for only a portion of the population in this small-town. Police have received mass criticism for their heavy-handed responses to nonviolent protest in the wake of Brown’s death. Even Missouri State Senator, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, was bombarded with repeated rounds of tear gas during the peaceful protest. Conservatives were quick to call foul over the apparent “government overreach” with the Cliven Bundy Ranch fiasco. Where is the outcry for the city of Ferguson?


    “But there are good cops out there!” I hear so many say. I agree with you. Again, as a former firefighter, I have worked alongside many of these good cops who not only went out of their way to be gracious and kind, but also were extremely heroic in their actions. However, true goodness also means that you stand up and speak out against injustice. My challenge to our sisters and brothers in the police force around this country is this: If you are a good cop, prove it. End the “Blue Wall of Silence” that protects the perpetrator with a badge who committed injustice and wrong on an innocent. Speak out. Stand up. We hear a lot about you good cops, but we never hear from you. It’s time to change that.


    As a priest, as a follower of Jesus, as a human being, I am angry about the injustice that continues in this country towards those who simply have a darker skin pigmentation than my own. Anger is a beautiful tool, as long as it used within the greater arsenal we have as Jesus’ followers. It is as St. Augustine once wrote: “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are ‘Anger’ and ‘Courage’. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” Be angry, but be courageous and hopeful, too! Allow that anger to only be in you because of the love for others that encompasses and engulfs you.


    My friends, pray. Refuse to allow things to remain as they are. Resist. Live a life that reveals the kingdom of God.

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