I have started writing this post about eight times now, but as much as I’m genuinely a loudmouthed prick, there are times when I’m at a loss for words. I’ve tried to get all intellectual, I’ve lost myself in emotions, and everything in between. So I’m going to give it another try.
Hey. Cops. You have got to fucking do better. And to the people, so do you.
In the past few days, despite my thinking of myself as someone who’s smart and knows all about how the world really is, I’ve been stunned. Michael Brown has been a lightning rod for the debate… Jesus, I’m doing it again.
It isn’t even a fucking debate. Militarized police murdered a black kid. There’s no national conversation. The people of Ferguson, Missouri are exploding with their frustration and shared pain. There is no closure to be had, no arguments, no sides. A kid was killed, and the story of Young Black Killed By Cops is almost a daily occurrence. Nobody talks about it. The media doesn’t report it. Black people get angry, robocops suppress them, and eventually it all just goes away.
That’s what we’re creating. When we don’t absolutely explode and demand justice, we don’t get it. It’s easier to look at the situation and try to find the justification. “Well, he’s a decorated police officer, so he MUST have had a real good reason for it…” Bullshit. We give them guns because we accept that shit can get real dangerous for our protectors and we want them to be safe. These stories aren’t about safety, and when we don’t go absolutely bugshit over them, the message that we’re sending is that it’s okay.
It’s not fucking okay.
I’m a white Canadian male. I have the easiest bullshit life on earth. I will never be shot by a cop. I will never experience what it’s like to have to teach my children how best to not get murdered. I will never have to think, “Hey, that street won’t be safe for me because the neighbors might just look at me and think I’m bad and shoot me for it. I will never have people look at me and wonder what in the fuck I am doing in their neighborhood. I will be profiled, based on my general appearance, like when the security guard where I work decided I was homeless. But seriously? A little annoyance and indignation and it’s all fucking better. I get how pathetic that is.
The simplest thing for me to do when I hear about any of this shit would be to say, “Gosh, that’s awful” and turn the page. I just don’t want to do that. I think that when we do that, we’re selling out the people who were killed or beaten or tortured. I think that when we do that, we’re saying “Hey, cops, it’s okay to be lazy and just assume that anyone who doesn’t look like me is a drug-crazed killer”. I think that when we do that, we’re hiding. I don’t want to hide.
In my day job, I’m an analyst. My job is to break down big problems until we understand them enough to fix them. This is a big problem, but nobody has bothered to break it down. Every problem can be solved, so long as there is a desire to solve it. No, scratch that. Every problem can be solved, so long as there is a desire to solve it and the actual resources to enact the change. When we don’t make a big fuck off deal about a young black man being murdered by police officers, we tell our leaders and protectors that it’s a bad thing, but not a bad enough thing for us to want to solve it.
That’s where we, and you’re damn right I’m including myself in this, that’s where WE are complicit. We look at it, we see a big problem, and we decide it’s too big for us to do anything about. And that’s true. I, sitting here on my deck in My Home Town in fucking Canada am not going to be able to fix the problems that resulted in the death of Michael Brown. But if we all start screaming, we force their hand.
Do our leaders lead us or represent us? That’s kind of the big question. If we raise our voices and demand change, they have two options. They can enact change because they represent us and have those resources, or they can ignore it, essentially leading us to complacency. If we keep screaming and they don’t listen, then we fire their asses and find people with the balls to get things done.
I can actually hear one of the people I know telling me that it’s a very expensive problem to fix. I agree. I’m just not prepared to accept that the frequency of abused power resulting in the permanent injury, psychological trauma, or death of innocent people is a problem we should look at on a balance sheet. Destroying injustice and corruption is worth the fucking investment.
These things are problems. Reservations and ghettos are ripe with problems. It’s easy to say that they aren’t our problems because we don’t live there. It’s easy to say “Hey, black people, you really ought to do something about this”. It’s easy to turn the page. It’s just wrong.