#Ferguson : My Thoughts on an American Flashpoint

“…It was the corroboration of their worth and their power that they wanted, and not the corpse, still less the staining blood.”  James Baldwin, “To Be Baptized,” from No Name in the Street, 1972

I have been asked by many people to take a close look at the Michael Brown shooting case in Ferguson, Missouri and offer my opinion.  I felt it best to take a step back and really absorb all the circulating currents of opinion and matters of fact before I made any personal pronouncements.  This is my best attempt to answer that call, hopefully soberly, responsibly and with as much restraint as I can muster in the face of this deeply American tragedy.  This is inherently a blog about food and food culture, but anyone who regularly reads this blog understands that it also is a blog about social and cultural justice.  It is clear to anyone who knows the African American experience and tradition—to speak on it demands the celebration of the best of our cultural and historical legacy, scholarly excellence, and absolute commitment to social and cultural responsibility. This is a raw piece—it’s not meant to be perfect—far from it.  It’s just how I feel.  My condolences to the Brown family.  There is profanity in this blog post. 

I received a nasty tweet last night; a tweet with a food theme in fact.  Michael Brown’s bleeding corpse with pictures of food transposed around it—fried chicken, bananas, watermelon, with Kool-Aid to wash it down.  My chest hurt and then I stared into space and before I knew it, I vomited.  It was not nausea—it was anger mixed with revulsion and memories from lives only my cells know.

 

I want you to understand something—I’ve been on multiple plantations and urban sites dealing with slavery. I’ve felt the Ancestors in the fields. I’ve seen the auction block and the whipping post and the hanging tree.  I embrace it, I own it, and I live it through food so I can say “Never Again,” with confidence.  I do the work that I do to educate people about the genesis of America’s original sin—I consider myself steeled. This however, was different—this was personal; that body could have been me.

Swirling around us are accusations, whispers and rumors about a “gentle giant,” named Michael Brown.  Michael Brown cannot be defined by the politics of respectability or the politics of backlash.  He cannot be dismissed with smirks and allegations he was just a “thug.”  Michel Brown is dead.  He was on his knees, with his hands up in a gesture of surrender and he was shot six times and then left in the street, his blood merging with asphalt, his life draining out with his future, the dreams of his parents and the hope of his ancestors.  That’s what surrounded him—not racialized food icons.

This is evil.  This is evidence that some people have no heart. We have to be better, we have to have light. We have to be the love G-d expects of us.

This is evil. This is evidence that some people have no heart. We have to be better, we have to have light. We have to be the love G-d expects of us.

I cannot convey to you how debasing it is to be expected, by convention of racialized submissive behavior to offer conciliatory pardons and excuses for Michael Brown’s less savory choices and behavior (or those of disaffected youth looting in his community for that matter).  What is clear is that he will not be tried by me or anyone else for alleged misdeeds prior to his death.  What is further clear is that he was not worthy of death for the activities behind said allegations nor for walking in the street.  The same country where some white folk are celebrating their “right,” to bear firearms in Targets and Starbucks and pointing rifles at Federal agents (a la Cliven Bundy) without reproach, dares lecture Black America about the legalized lynchings of its sons for petty theft or perceived slights against police and governmental authority.  The same country where people are thrilled by movies about white collar crime on Wall Street and the theft of millions on the same, has robbed people of their savings is the same country where “stop and frisk” jukes the stats uptown while the real crooks downtown go wild and unrestrained after their rape of the American dream.

But I digress.  Michael Brown is not alone—Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, so many others—all of these humans–as Rep. Steven King of Iowa unfortunately put it—“of a single continental origin,” were my brothers.  In the spirit of the Torah, “my brother’s blood cries out from the earth.” I’m here to tell you what their blood is saying to me…

A Declaration of War

Several weeks ago Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, the very state that held my maternal ancestors in slavery and from which my grandparents left under the duress of legalized terrorism and inequality (and swore to never return), declared that there was a “war on whites.” This tremendously irresponsible and inflammatory statement was followed up by typical platitudes: “It doesn’t make any difference what your skin pigmentation is,” Brooks said. “In America this is the land of opportunity. You can excel provided you’re willing to study hard, work hard, take advantage of the opportunities that are presented in our country. And there are plenty of people who have been able to establish that this race issue should be way behind us.”  Mo Brooks, I’ll put my Alabama Confederate ancestor against yours and ask the question, “Is the race issue behind us?”  I’m the good black, so that means I’m okay right? Rep. Brooks, perhaps if you wanted a repeat of Red Summer, baby I think you got it.

Few in the national media connected the dots between the heated, racialized rhetoric of what civil rights activist Rev. William Barber of North Carolina has called , “the third Reconstruction,” with the recent spate of confrontations between police and African American men, women and children.  My maternal grandfather of blessed memory, not the most militant man in the world, recalled to me how he often witnessed the police come and brag about “how many niggers they killed,” in the streets of his neighborhood in Birmingham.  “They harassed us in blue by day and in white by night.”

What this post is not—is an indictment of all law enforcement—of any ethnicity.  That’s as ridiculous as indicting every Black male as a criminal.  I don’t think that most people feel that way, we well understand the social contract.  They want to be able to trust law enforcement, they want to be able to support and depend on them.  We have witnessed the militarization of law enforcement in convergence with a reverse, alleged declaration of war on whites.  What’s wrong with this picture?  And, why is the 24 hour news cycle media not calling this for what it is—a recipe for social dissolution built on 7 years of sustained, celebrated, financially rewarded hate speech churned out against you-know-who and all those that look like you-know-who.

We are paying a horrible consequence for silencing the leader of the Free World on matters of racial justice with deep importance to the world, our country and our people.  We have turned the other cheek in such a way as to invite shots rather than slaps.  When POTUS said that cops acted “stupidly” in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested for resisting arrest on the steps of his own home, he was right; so right that it was a moment more thrilling to me than his oath of office.  Hope! Change! Vindication!

And then he had to back up off of that power.  At the mercy of his party, backlash politics and law enforcement lobbying, he had to retract his gut reaction and put a beer in the hand of a man who humiliated the world’s foremost scholar of African American history and culture.  (You should at this point re-read Mo Brooks’ statement about how to succeed in America–hint–double standard…) Glenn Beck famously said of the incident; “(here is) a guy (President Obama) who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don’t know what it is…” Dr. Gates said, “I’m sorry,” the President said, “I’m sorry,” Glenn Beck just got another million for offering up more red meat.  From that moment on, I knew the stage was set for a long season of disappointment and dishonest dialogue about healing America’s oldest wound.  If there is one thing I know to be true—it is this—and I have lived my life with blunt honesty about this—Black people do not benefit from lying to white people about how they really feel about injustice.  We missed an incredible opportunity at the beginning of the Obama presidency to confront head on overreach by law enforcement vis-a-vis people of color!!! You can count the minutes from that incident to the afternoon of August 9th on Canfield Ave. in Ferguson, Missouri.  

B(l)ack to the future.

Rep. Brooks declares that there is a “war on whites” and remains uncensored for his inflammatory rhetoric, and yet there seems to be a pursuit of an offensive war on people of color in the streets of America—women dragged naked from their apartments, women beaten to a pulp on the LA freeway, men cornered like hunted lions in Staten Island, young men shot dead for perceived slights against what some like Glenn Beck, believe to be the last bastion of white power.  Geopolitics and the global economy are not on the side of white America, neither are demographics or the unifying principles of language, faith, social issues politics or aesthetics.  I’m not telling you anything you don’t know or feel—this is what he really means by the “war on whites,” the eclipse of white heterosexual cis-male hegemony in the face of a New American Order where obfuscation of competing narratives is obsolete and we are more multigrain than white bread.

“Give Me your tired rhetoric, your poor attempts at pacification, your yearning to yell logical fallacies…”

Give it to me.  Or what did the uncouth Ferguson cop say on CNN to the African American protesters, “Bring it you f—g animals!” Tell me all about “absentee fathers” Joseph Epstein—because you’re an expert on Black people if I ever saw one (shandeh!).  Please say, “What you (people) need to do…” (Thanks for the paternalism) and “What you need to tell your people is to stop…….”  Tell me all about how Black men are far more likely to commit this crime or that crime…and hold a mirror to my face about Black on Black crime vs. white on Black crime.  Tell me about myths of low IQ’s, poor academic performance, a failed attempt at instilling pride through Black history and Afrocentric culture; please tell me everything about what you might feel to be the “real” root cause.  Rap music, the “n” word, drugs, liquor—give me your tired rhetoric, your poor attempts at pacification, your yearning to yell logical fallacies. You might well be Black, or white, or brown or “yellow” but it is all nonsense and distraction because let’s put it in terms you can understand, Michael Brown is dead and he could be any of us –even me.

The Good Black

If you really believe in “the good Black,” let me offer you a cautionary personal tale.  A few years ago, a friend of mine was taking to me to synagogue on the commemoration of Tisha B’Av.  He’s white, I am obviously of a certain “continental origin” and a car almost hit us on the passenger side of the vehicle.  I was the passenger; the person in the car was driving erratically.  I said nothing—but I grimaced and frowned. My friend got agitated, but did not drive in an aggressive fashion.

The unmarked car suddenly put on a siren and we the driver began to glare at me—through me—with a look of absolute disdain.  He was ready for reprisal. We were pulled over—not on the side of the road, but into a parking lot.  He got out of the car, pulled his gun and told my white friend, “TELL YOUR PASSENGER TO PUT HIS F—G HANDS UP ON THE DASHBOARD AND NOT TO MOVE THEM! YEAH MOTH–KER YOU’RE SO G–DAMNED BAD! WHAT’S THAT MOTH—KER, A GUN?”

It was my prayerbook.  It had G-d’s name on it, beautiful gold Hebrew letters gleaming at me on a sunless day.  In kippa, dress clothes and non-leather shoes, headed to synagogue, I had a gun at my head by a police officer calling for backup…which curiously never came.  He never asked my friend to put his hands up.  Said friend got out of the car, handed over his ID.  I was far from trembling, afraid or submissive when he returned—gun drawn—to my side of the vehicle—I was Nat Turner mad.  He patted me down and even threw my kippa on the ground.  No reason, no cause.  He loudly pronounced my name over the radio, confident he was going to turn a glare—a reckless eyeballing– into an arrest.

Surprise!  No moving violations on the part of my friend, the driver, no weapons on me, no rap sheet, nothing.  Jack shit.  The policeman got nervous.  I was not a good catch.  He softened his approach with awkward verbal retreats until the tense conversation ended in “Have a nice day.”  No apologies, no attempt at breaking down his wall.

I was not appeased.  But I was too scared to say anything or file a complaint.  I knew the man’s name for all of seven days.  Then I forgot it.  I had heard stories about the Blue line.  I didn’t want any further harassment; I put it away—I didn’t speak about it—until now.

I do the work that I do because I am well aware of the power food can have in telling human stories and reaching people with uncomfortable or powerful truths they might otherwise not be amenable to.  I have a multicultural faith, a multicultural family, a multicultural life, and I come from a multicultural blood line. I will not allow this or any other flashpoint to tear my family apart–so we will come together for the good.  I feel I have a mission in this world, much like Michael Brown might well have felt as he contemplated who he would be once he graduated technical college.  I use food and this history behind the food to tell us how we got here and to encourage us to never find our way back to the places that derailed the dream we as the American people offer so proudly to the world.

Afraid in My Own Skin

Michael Brown, I am so heartbroken because I know how some of these idiotic people see you.  I’m Michael too.  I’ve been big, fat, scary, black and worthless too.  I know that you were not, and I am not–really big fat, scary, black and worthless—but the social media commentary—scary, fat, big black guy…keeps coming up and it outrages me that we feel like big game in the eyes of people who hide behind screen names and Twitter handles.  (Too bad the fact you will always see me with a book in my hand makes me scarier than if I had a football.)

I am afraid that had that cop been turned up one more notch I would not be writing this—I’d have been big fat, scary, Black, worthless and dead.  Oh, and by the way, this is one of six negative encounters with law enforcement I have had where I was in no way held in the commission of a crime, arrested, or held until being tried for a crime.  I was the passenger with a white friend, and it was alleged I was a drug dealer because we were at a gas station, “a little bit too long.”  I was on a bus and every Black male was asked to present his ID and had his bag searched.  I have been stopped for walking while Black and pressed up against a wall.

Wanna know the worst part?  When the people passing you on the sidewalk look at you with a presumptive glance that they believe you wouldn’t have gotten in trouble if you hadn’t done something wrong.  You are guilty until proven innocent, and even then you ain’t so damn innocent.  You are the good black, the good boy, and by god you might just get your reward in heaven if you just suppress your jungle anger and just suck it up and forget that this moment has a dark past and that 2014 and 1619 have just been linked together in an ignoble chain.  This is the moment Mama and Daddy gave you “the talk” about; and nothing prepared you for that look you get from the onlookers as you, the consummate “Other,” get a hand in the crack of your ass.

Beyond Race, Toward Hope

I hate the word “race,” it is inept and woefully inadequate.   Its usage—and I freely admit having to rely on it here at times—is completely out of pace with science, our collective ethical spirit, and intellectual truth.  Ethnicity—a far better term in my opinion speaking to a deeper lexicon means that we have our self-described niches based on ancestry.   Ethnicities have their histories, patterns of experience and cultural cues.  We have been here before, and we will continue to be here as the African American people until we break the wheel—by voting, by lobbying, by economic boycotts and by learning the law as good if not better than those that are tasked with enforcing it.  With our books, with our ballots, with our boycotts, we can cut the hanging tree down and use its wood to make a coffin for “racial” injustice.

I am trying to be hopeful. I see Americans of all colors putting their hands up saying “Don’t shoot.”  Solidarity is spreading from rally to rally; there are new kids on the block—and they don’t want the bitter fruit of the past. The old canards that this is a race war a la Mo Brooks have no truth here—we are embracing anyone who will embrace us, loving anyone who will love us, respecting anyone who will respect us, and we want desperately to believe that we—in our protest, in our pursuit of justice through the courts of law, in our demands for information—are the epitome of what it means to be American.

To my foodie friends: throw your hands up!  Listen, we do ourselves no favors when we pretend that food is a respite from the matters of the day.  Where do we go when we want to feel better and hash out our grievances and vent?  We go to the table.  Given that I am often the only Black guy, or one of five Black people period at many food events, I want you to know what this harassment means when you see me/us encounter it.  I want you to step out of the fantasy that food is freedom from socio-cultural politics and just remember to be aware of the cues and clues that injustice and inequality are ever close and we must all be vigilant.

But I ask, as James Baldwin once asked, “How much time do you want, for your progress?”

Please don’t shoot!

Please!

Please!!

PLEASE!!!

 

 

About michaelwtwitty

I am a Judaics teacher and Culinary Historian focusing on the foodways of Africa, enslaved African Americans, African America and the African and Jewish diasporas.
This entry was posted in Scholars, Elders and Wise Folk, The Cooking Gene and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

172 Responses to #Ferguson : My Thoughts on an American Flashpoint

  1. D' says:

    sadness.
    thankful for the heart you share. I cannot fully understand your perspective because I haven’t lived your history; however, I stand with you and I pray for us all.

  2. mfennvt says:

    I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been put through. I hope it can stop happening some day.

  3. ks says:

    I love your blog. Thank you for your powerful testimony.

  4. Thank you! As a White living historian of the American Civil War and Colonial periods your perspective, honesty and excellent writing teaches me and broadens my perspective. We need to talk with, and learn from, each other if we are ever going to create positive change.

  5. tonyzeoli says:

    Michael,

    Having grown up in Boston during forced busing, I unfortunately was exposed early to the hatred and disparity, which I’ve watched now for 48-years of my life. Well, as many years since I actually understood “race” and inequality. It’s disheartening, tragic and unjust to have to feel this way. I don’t know when it will ever end, but all I can do is hope and through small things like volunteering, teach what I know about getting along, seeing “the other” and respecting cultures and faiths. That’s all I can do on my side and I will keep doing that until I part from this earth. Having grown up facing these issues in my personal life, I do want to say that sometimes I am afraid, because of the anger and words my black friends have expressed towards whites and justifiably so given the disparity and despair. It’s just hard to be the person who is in the middle. White skin yet sympathetic, but afraid that I’m identified as part of the reason all of this exists. It is surely not the same as being targeted, stopped, frisked or shot and killed. I’m not comparing the two. But I want you to know that while you feel targeted, I’m somewhere in the middle saying to myself, I’m just a person trying to deal in this racial divide and I hear the seething anger from those who are disenfranchised, while watching the political economy of the white owned military industrial and prison complex invest in ensuring that the parade of young black men in prison continues. I don’t want anyone to feel sympathy for me. I just want to be honest that I’m just as afraid as you about where we are in this world, what it means and how it affects us all. It’s scary and while we Americans are supposed to hold these ideals of freedom and prosperity, there is an underlying and disgusting hatred and control that permeates our society. These things happen and we ask ourselves why this continues, when we all should know better. But some people just don’t want it to end. It’s like Israel and Palestine. There are forces who prefer it this way, because they benefit from it somehow. I’m sorry you had to wake up to this again. Year after year, night after night, something like this happens and we just keep on living this nightmare. I wish we had MLK here to lead us and I hope that one day, there is a new MLK who will come to lead our society on these issues and verbalize the values that we must embrace to overcome this ugliness.

    • I really appreciate your comments. This kind of dialogue is exactly what we need.

      • Tony Zeoli says:

        Thanks, Michael. All I can do is say something and hope it sheds some light on understanding from the perspective of someone who has been educated on the divide and feels guilty about it, but knows its so complex and so ingrained in our society, that we may never see an end to it. So, the best we can do is work to understand each other and enjoy the moments where black and white come together to achieve common, shared goals.

  6. Rita Arens says:

    This is so well written, so spot-on, and so important. Thank you for writing it.

  7. This is beautiful, moving, brilliant, heartbreaking, worthy. I thank God for your presence in this world, in this time, in this place. You are a great and undeserved blessing in my life. I want to see you soon. Thank you for finding the words to write this down. Shared it on FB. and other places. A privilege. Take care.

  8. Laura Leavitt says:

    I echo Tony Zeoli. I appreciate this piece and have shared it on FB. There is such a lack of understanding, a lack of empathy by so many, which is what you are speaking about in general. For me, specifically, even IF Michael Brown had committed a crime shortly before his demise, even IF he had scuffled with the officer prior to and “went for his gun”–he deserved his day in court, not to be summarily executed by the “peace” officer. Thank you again for thoughtful piece.

    • Tony Zeoli says:

      You’re right, Laura. Those who only read about this or hear the reports will never know exactly what happened, because we were not there to know. But, what we do know is that someone like Michael Brown deserved his day in court. From reports, he was trying to flee not to harm and he had his hands up. The police officer reacted and that’s what we know. Unfortunately, the collision of lives at that moment leads us to where we are today. But that collision should have been a fender bender and not resulted in death – a major traffic incident and an unfortunate traffic accident that should have ended in a discussion and not violence. Its tragic and we have yet to turn the corner on all of this stuff in this country. Sad.

  9. ketzirah says:

    Thank you for this. It’s the most honest and thoughtful response that I’ve seen. Grateful that the Internet brings you into my life.

  10. Rachel Clark says:

    There are times when someone(you) write something that is so incredibly profound that you are left speechless because it has you roiling in emotions. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. I am going to share this on fb. Preach on.

  11. Bravo! I honor the emotional and psychic cost of calling all of this back to mind and putting it in writing. I thank you for that generosity.

    Others who have read and/or left comments, appreciation is a beginning, but please, commit yourself to engaging someone in conversation, to raising the topic of racist injustice at some point in the course of your daily life. Not easy, perhaps, but if not our voices, whose?

  12. Ann Imig says:

    This is a breathtaking post. Thank you. I’m listening, amplifying, and adding my voice. I am not a great cook, but I am definitely at this table. B’Shalom.

  13. slm1711 says:

    I am crying as I read this, so thankful for the time and heart and perspective you poured into this. I am reading everything I can, trying to find the words and the ways to convince, lead, prod, show, prompt all the people in my life who want to hide from these truths to take action, to take moral responsibility, even if they can only go so far as to say, “Yes, I see.” Thank you thank you and thank you. May we all do better, and make the change, instead of merely praying for it.

  14. Ruth says:

    Such a thoughtful piece.

    I want to thank you for putting into words that which is just an emotional maelstrom for me.

    I’ll be following your blog. Food and insightfulness are not at all a bad combination.

    -Ruth Liel

  15. Jackquelynn Jones says:

    The power of the social media..this was shared on Facebook..or I would never have read your emotional and compelling words. You were able to convey so profoundly, what many of us cannot articulate and feel so emotionally. Thank you

  16. rabbiadar says:

    Reblogged this on Coffee Shop Rabbi and commented:
    I invite my readers to chew on the words of Michael Twitty. He never lacks for flavor, and this post is especially good, engaging as it does both the head and the heart.

  17. Michael, Thanks for what you said and who you are. No one should sit quietly by when injustice is perpetrated, whether it is a stop-and-frisk that ends quietly or one that ends tragically, a taunting by a “civilian” that is words alone, or an expression of hatred that turns into violent acts. Only when we all see the offense against one as an offense against all will our society truly be at peace.

  18. I am saddened by your experience, and hope that as life goes on you see and recognize the advances made in our country in the last half century. From the days of segregated drinking fountains to an era where it has been demonstrated that color does not deter the determined from achievement, it is really time to celebrate and continue our national reconciliation, not exacerbate the divisions by dwelling on them. Certainly rioting and looting your neighborhood does not help the nation, and it too needs to be a part of this dialog so many ask about.

  19. Thank you so much Michael. Truthful, from the heart and brain.

  20. Gail says:

    Thank you, Michael. I posted this on the New Directions Facebook page, with the hope of prompting a continuation and deepening of the conversation that started when you spoke with the group in February. Your candor and emotional courage are a model for us all. No justice – no peace.

  21. We need to hear this, Michael. Thank you for sharing so honestly. I am sorry to hear that you are getting hate mail for this one. It will not be easy, but we must call upon “the better angels of our nature,” as Lincoln put it, if we are to get beyond this to a better day.

  22. helodrvr says:

    Amen, Cousin! Heartfelt and eloquently stated!

  23. The obvious “war” here is between good and evil. The horns of heaven are shouting out for all to see and hear. And for good people to come together in prayer for this world. America is showing the world that we are divided, and a house divided cannot stand. Good people should not allow the President to be dishonored because it makes the whole country look weak and invites enemies from ( within) and from the outside. We cannot allow our good strong “warriors” to go uneducated, unemployed, hungry, disrespected, shot down and killed and then expect to have a sufficient “army” to fight the enemy. America needs these young men to be husbands, fathers, inventors, preachers, prophets, teachers, and warriors also. Please take the guns from the “trigger happy” and give them training in communication, humility, and what it means to be a true servant. As an African American mother I am saddened for Michael Brown’s mother because I have sons also, but I know God is still in control. Evil people killed “My LORD”, so I know that there is danger for all who follow Him, and much more danger for those who don’t acknowledge Him. I pray His will be done, because I know it will all work out for “good” in the end. In Jesus’ name I pray.

  24. sarahf2 says:

    Michael, your words make my heart hurt. You wrote with such eloquence and your very own truth. “Father, forgive them; they not what they do.” All I can say is that I am deeply, deeply sorry for all of the hurt. God bless you.

  25. Anne says:

    Please allow me to add my heartfelt thanks to all these comments, which say it more eloquently than I can. As a descendant of white (slave-owning) South Carolinians, and having grown up in Ferguson (tho I no longer live there), I hear your pain I am so very sorry for that pain. I am sad for my hometown and hope that your brave and beautiful piece will continue to inspire others to meaningful dialogue and CHANGE. God Bless You.

  26. Michael ,you’ve done an AWESOME job laying out life as it plays out each and every day for young Black men and Women be their names Michael or Mary. Continued success in your career and the great writing that you do. Keep you chin up….

  27. penk18 says:

    Your words are heartbreaking, and you have taught me. Chazak v’amatz … Be strong; you are not alone.

  28. Megan D. says:

    Eloquent and beautifully put.

    I wish there was a way to remove the pain of the past like a bandaid,one rip and done, but I’m learning now as 30-something mother how unreal that expectation was…my naïveté has been adjusted. My belief in a free and equal society isn’t the reality…yet.

    Do you ever think it will be? Do you think that we will eventually find a way to recover from our past?

    I know we have to so that we can keep from tearing each other apart, but how are we to make the people who want to remain hateful understand what they are doing to other human beings? Understand that all people are human beings? Understand that it’s not okay to treat other human beings as if they are “other” and judge based on a design of birth?

    My heart aches for Michael Brown and his family, it trembles in anger at the political and police reactions, and feels hollow at the thought that this is only just coming to a tipping point. Now is the time for a collect gathering and hopeful resolution that can be sustained.

    Prayers to you as you journey through this life.

  29. andilit says:

    Oh my friend, thank you. Thank you. thank you. I hope the voices of appreciation can push the voices of hate aside – for you, for everyone – even for just a moment. Thank you.

  30. andilit says:

    Thank you, Michael. Thank you. May our words of gratitude push aside the hatred for even one moment . . . and may YOUR words of wisdom and light pierce us all.

  31. JWarren says:

    You are a brilliant thinker. I will share your words because they are so true and I want more folks to hear them and learn. Thank you for saying what many of us think but do not have a way to say them so well.

  32. Colleen cook says:

    Brilliant. As I read, self proclaimed tears pour from my eyes. “With our books, with our ballots, with our boycotts, we can cut the hanging tree down and use its wood to make a coffin for “racial” injustice.” Yes! And everything else you said. Thank you.

  33. Peter McDonough says:

    Troy Davis was executed for the same apologetic, silenced refusal to speak about race. Members of the original victims family doubted his guilt, another man admitted to his crime, even the warden in charge of his death row chambers said “tonight I feel to the bottom of my heart like we are killing an innocent man.” About two hundred people gathered outside of the whit house to protest and ask for a pardon or at least a stay of execution but because it was an election year… Because it was an African American male accused of killing a white cop… Because the democratic base was afraid of how middle America (Christian america) would view a stay of execution – Troy Davis’s life was extinguished.

  34. Dixie says:

    A powerful ‘main course’, Michael- thank you! If we are to ever move beyond racism, we all need to feel comfortable in productive, open dialogue without fear of being called ‘racist’ . Let’s put our cards on the table face up.

  35. Gayle says:

    Let us also remember that our president is not a ” black man” or the “first black president”. He is of mixed racial heritage. I am getting so tired of pigeonholing people because of what they look like.

    • Lauri says:

      Agreed, Gayle. None of it should matter at all. But, it sure has brought out the haters and the ignorant.

    • I’ve never really understood this issue with characterizing Obama as black. Through our history a man with his racial heritage and appearance has been black enough to be discriminated against. He’s black enough that it was a victory, to me, that we as a nation had come to the point where he could be elected. He’s certainly black enough to whip big portions of the nation into a froth of bigotry. What heritage will a president need to have in order to qualify as the first black man or woman in the role?

      President Obama can identify himself however he likes; I feel like I’ve heard him refer to himself as both black and African-American at times but I couldn’t prove it. I don’t know that I think it matters – I’ll respect his right to self-identify however he likes, as I would anyone else. But for the sake of discussing our nation’s reaction to him I don’t see how he doesn’t qualify as a “black man.”

  36. Diane says:

    Thank you for writing this. It was posted on FB by a friend. You are the first person I have seen to connect the dots between the election of Obama as president and the hatred and escalation of tension. I had recognized that there were irrational statements about Obama — that had to come from hatred — as well as the stated objective of the opposition to spend their time in congress ensuring that Obama would not be elected again (didnt work) rather than addressing the issues that confront this country. It is so tragic that a positive event (IMHO) led to such negative consequences. It is shameful– our police acting like angry militia you see in third world countries. I am so ashamed of what you had to go thru riding to the synagogue on Tisha B’Av. Speaking of which — the rise in Anti-Semitism is also frightening.

  37. doranyc says:

    I’m so glad to have stumbled onto your blog via a facebook friend. What beautiful words, what a beautiful message. (can’t wait to read more about FOOD)

    I’ve never been in denial about how much it sucks for black people to have to interact with the police. It’s a no-brainer. And I’m flabbergasted by the degree of denial of this fact that I’ve seen on facebook from people on my “friends” list. The stories my black friends have told me over the years…. The negative side-effects of living as a constant suspect must have on the psyche are not lost on me. For example, I have a friend whom, after his fourth or fifth bad interaction with the police back in the 90’s, actually gave up driving entirely. Especially since that last interaction was because they pulled him out of his car an beat him to a pulp simply for driving through a small town. Never drove again. It makes you think about what “Freedom” really is, what it really means to people.

  38. Meredith says:

    thank you for expressing these painful truths; I am guilty of not getting out my comfortable shell to see what others are dealing with. this is an eye opener and takes my breath away that such hatefulness flourishes in our neighborhoods. your hopefulness, Mr Twitty is a challenge to me to spread that sense of ‘together, we can build better relations’. Shalom, Meredith

  39. truebluefred says:

    This is one of the most significant and important things I’ve ever read. Thank you.

  40. Pingback: Repost: Ferguson, Thoughts on an American Flashpoint | The Logical Mormon

  41. Without knowing Nicole Taylor, I doubt I would have read one of the most moving pieces I’ve read on other’s perspectives on what this means. Thank you Michael Twitty. No words.

  42. Starshadow says:

    Powerful. I’ve shared the link on my FB wall. I am speaking out on this. Michael Brown, it turns out, paid for his cigarillos, per the video from which frames were taken to make him look like a thug. When will the cop who shot him be arrested for murder?

    Where are the voices of powerful black celebrities?

    Every 28 hours a black person, usually a young male, is killed by a cop, a self-appointed vigilante or a security guard. That breaks my heart. We need to come together–all of us. We need to demand accountability. Cops should wear cameras while on duty. We need to stop this madness.

    Your voice is an important one, Michael. Thanks for adding it.

  43. Laura Silva says:

    You wrote everything so perfectly, you got down to the core of the issue. I applaud you!

  44. senamerican says:

    I have reblogged this. Again, thank you! This is the best i have read about the events in Ferguson. I hope the POTUS gets the opportunity to read it too. As an African living in America, I am scared to death for the lives of my sons. Thank you Michael!

    From an African sister.

  45. Thank you for your beautiful terrifying words – I wish that the casual compassion we Americans are comfortable with (the ones that only require a *like* or a bucket of cold water) could be replaced with the gut level understanding that these are all our children, all our sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers…..and if we can’t recognize that we are all together and that none of us is The Other, then at least let us stop killing each other. I fear for my brown grand daughter, my white grand son and his friends and for the countless communities that are over run by *free* military combat-geared troops who do not protect or serve.

    I found you through a FB post and will share your words again there and at our church. And return to read your work often.

  46. This wasn’t just words I was reading, but the essence of what I think is truly you and what you stand for. Your insight is thought provoking and MOST welcomed! I love when my perspective shifts to take that other fork in the road. It saddens me that you had those negative experiences, but also uplifted because I feel you have used those experiences (among other things) too fused the complexity of issues in this piece. Thank you.

  47. Kristin Strobel says:

    A powerful piece- thank you for your honesty, passion, and time.

  48. Melanie says:

    Michael, you are a ray of light and thoughtfulness in a sound byte world that celebrates ignorance and even ugliness. My soul rests just a bit easier knowing you are out there speaking to these deep themes so courageously, with such kindness, nuance, fairness, and profound honesty. Thank you for your courage, and your voice.

  49. I am so proud of you!! I am so proud that you always seem to have the words to express the heart of the matter in a way that crystallizes an issue and focuses us. Mike Brown died because black humanity is marginalized every day globally; and that’s a fact. There is a constant attempt in this country to temper the rage and the disillusion this fact breeds through token gestures, but mainly its just dismissed, and so when yet another one of our people is hunted and lynched we get an over simplification of the facts and a call to move past race/ethnicity. I love you, my brilliant beautiful powerful brother, because your words take us to a place where we are able to affirm all the way to the marrow of our bones that the undercurrent of hatred and contempt for black life we feel isn’t just an overly sensitive figment of our collective imagination and that our ethnicity gives us an ancestral authority to be amazing and proud and human!!

  50. Paul says:

    This author sounds like an exploitive racial provocateur with few facts to support his case, and certainly no statistics. Was he there? Did he see the boy on his knees with his arms in the air surrendering? I think not. Rather than waiting for the facts of the case to come out so an honest discussion can be approached, he chooses to dismiss the context of the boy’s behavior in robbing a store owner, as well as excusing the behavior of those “disaffected youth” who looted and burned innocent owner’s property. IF the police officer showed premeditated malice with no threat to his own self from the boy, then he should be convicted in court and sentenced appropriately. But, this author’s biased rush to judgement and rash extrapolations are simply racist, in my opinion.

    • You would never say that about someone who was white, Jewish and dealing with a situation that smacked of violent anti-Semitism. But that’s typical of the double standard of many ad hominem attacks against Americans of African descent who air our grievances. If i am an exploitive racial provocateur, the ADL must be an munitions factory, but types like yourself rarely see the advocacy of other ethnicities for empathy as provocative or race baiting. As a Black man, a Jew, and the descendant of Black, white, brown and red people I find your rush to judgment racist because it comes from a place of power, privilege and perspective thst dismisses the voices of people of color as racially provocative if they dont agree wirh the status quo. Your comment is a perfect example of why this conversation about “the good Black” must be had and our truth must be told. Thanks buddy, I need my haters too.

      • Paul says:

        Sorry, Michael, perhaps I was a little too spun up in labeling you a racist when I don’t even know you. I do NOT hate you, I just respectively think that there are most likely two sides to this and every story that you and I should consider. In my experience, it is usually best to take a step back and analyze facts. I was not there, and nor were you (I am assuming).

        You don’t KNOW what I would say about somebody who is white, Jewish, etc.; because you do not know me. Likewise, I do not know what you would say as well, because I have never met you. I have never “hated” anybody in my life. I would rather not be associated with cruel people, whatever their heritage. I have never touched a gun, nor have I ever been violent. I am in the medical profession, and I see more than 4,000 patients a year of various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds; and always strive to be unbiased and objective. Do I fail to do so sometimes? Certainly, I am not perfect.

        It seems to me that, in our current biased mainstream media culture, we are often bombarded with carefully constructed politically correct one-sided views. Not always, but often. Therefore, we see, in this situation and many others of the like, a rush to judgment without thoughtful analysis. This perspective may be accurate, or inaccurate, but there is rarely a methodical discussion of the facts in the mainstream media.

        My wise wife always reminds me that there are usually THREE SIDES to every story: my side, the other person’s side, and the truth- which is likely somewhere in between!

        Once again, Michael, I apologize for my inappropriate labeling of your comments.

      • I will accept that. Thank you. To error is human, to dialogue is divine.

  51. labradog says:

    Michael ~
    As a white guy, living in rural Maryland, just a few miles from a former slave-breaking farm, in Harriet Tubman country, I say thank you.
    I came here from atrios’ eschaton blog – part of my daily read of America’s rap sheet.
    I’ll be back here for the food, too, my brother.

  52. Dear Michael, A friend posted this, but I will be following you now. You have pretty much wrapped up three and a half centuries of evil in a few pages. Your personal testimony moved me to tears. I made a decision earlier this year that I would focus on the cause of civil rights, so I started a blog for white people in which I write about the crimes against African-Americans in the past and in the present. I was never taught this history; I had to go looking for it because God forbid our schools should make history have an actual impact on us. My studies often leave me feeling depressed and hopeless; then yet another tragic incident occurs and my anger propels me back to the blog. It is called The Moral Universe and can be found at moraluniversecynthia.wordpress.com.

    I’m going to share your blog on my FB page. If I were a teacher, I would make this piece mandatory reading. Thank you, thank you, and God bless you.

  53. Cathy C. says:

    First of all I want to say that you write beautifully and that your feelings are validly felt by you. I truly feel horrible that this young man is dead and I am searching for a solution that really addresses the problem instead of hanging on an explanation that is no longer viable — and I say this in light of the other mass crime in other parts of the country that are occurring with no connection made. I am not black so I don’t know how it is to stand in your shoes and you don’t know how it is to stand in my shoes…. With that being said I want to find a solution that REALLY addresses the underlying problem and doesn’t scapegoat through one person … So here it is – my attempt to really address the underlying problem…..

    First on the issue of Race — I think what is going on today is more of a “class issue” than race. Poor verses rich — I think if there were enough jobs here to get these people working and busy you would see a big difference — The violence in these poor communities is a symptom of an economy leaving these people out — Exporting jobs overseas at the expense of giving these people jobs, hopes, dreams. I think the Democrats think the response is to hand out more money and social programs, and the Republicans — get the capitalists to generate more jobs here — Either way, I don’t see this as race anymore — There are many afluent blacks – doctors, lawyers, teachers — very well respected pillars in society….. These people (white, black, orange, purple) need incentive to get out of the hood and become hard working responsible people — Letting in millions of immigrants and supporting them at the cost of our own people – this young man as an example — is part of the problem. We as a society should not scapegoat through one police officer that almost got his life taken by an unarmed villain after a robbery (on camera no less) — we should look at the bigger picture — Just a few days later there was a similar incident — in New York and Detroit mass crime incidents — Put yourself in the police officer’s shoes — a villian running from a robbery charges at you? What would you do? Didn’t he have the right to self defense? What if he got killed by doing nothing? What about him and his family — are they less important – not as significant?

    This is a much larger issue then any individual case — To think otherwise is just denial. The problem is that most people don’t know what the problem is and how it can be solved — there are really just a handful of people who even understand how basic economics work — we have a democracy with unknowledgeable people voting on things they no very little about. For example — most people don’t understand what the gross national product is — what 17 trillion dollars of debt means to this country, its exchange rate, our economy and the list goes on. We are not a country of black and white anymore — there are lots of colors in between — we are a country of rich and poor with a middle class that is shrinking by the moment — We need a government that will address this and get these people back into mainstream America — back to having a Dream and not a dreary daunting life of petty crime and the hood as their prospects.

    On the specific issues as to the case at hand — Lets look at the media augmented alleged facts:

    First on the issue of justifiable homicide – the pivotal quesiton is (1) did he in fact rush at the police officer? The autopsy reports conclude and witness account that – Yes he did.
    (2) Would a reasonable Police Officer perceive a threat of danger to life or serious bodily injury when being rushed at by the subject? This is a factual issue and the facts will either establish that he reasonably perceived his (or other’s) life was in danger or not — did he know or have reason to know that the teenager was unarmed? He just fled from a robbery so the chances of him having a weapon would be high and he apparently had shoved the police officer and ran earlier so it seems highly reasonable (more like probable) that he did have a weapon at the time of the charge —
    Everyone is intelligent in Hindsight — so the perception in those quick seconds of the police officer is key —
    I think that the rush to judgment of the police officer killing an unarmed teenager (based on race) grossly misstates the facts that the police officer was chasing him from the scene of the crime, the teenager was violent and posed a real and immediate threat to the police officer’s life. I think if a white villian charged him he would have reacted the same way…

    From everything I have read thus far it appears that he charged at the police officer and in that moment presented a perceived threat of life or serious bodily injury to the police officer– a lot of the witness accounts that negate this seem to not be very credible and were refuted by the autopsy reports —

    With all the above being said only the real facts presented in the (presumably) court room will establish what actually happened – good, bad or ugly — The police are treated as an agent of the State and held to a higher standard — but even so — have the right to protect themselves and others from the threat of death or serious bodily harm.

    I sincerely am sorry to the family — my heart goes out to anyone who loses someone in these circumstances — If we want to prevent this from continuing to occur in one way or the other — what does the government have to do to really help these communities — get them back on track so that they can live and look forward to a real DREAM — these are Americans, black or white or purple — I want jobs coming back to this country and not just minimum wage — I want better schools and accountability — I don’t believe in socialism so we have to make it easier for American companies to own and operate business here in the United States — we need to protect our borders better —
    These people are being ignored in our society and most people are not looking at the Elephant in the middle of the room — that they are falling into this because of lack of hope, prospects and jobs —
    Some of my best friends and mentors have been BLACK and so I take the opportunity to really look at the underlying problems and for the TRUTH — not a facade of media riddles…..

    I am only responding because I CARE and you want to open a dialogue …Ten years from now I want the people in that neighborhood all working and looking to buy their first home, fixing up their houses, getting their children ready for the school play — living the American Dream and not some Blight of existence because our economy has shrivelled up the middle class and forgotten its OWN.

    • Cathy, doesn’t it bother you that the police officer started the confrontation by shouting, “Get the f… on the sidewalk!” I and other whites have walked down the middle of the street before and don’t get that reaction.
      I can imagine someone like Ron Johnson calling them over to the car, asking them politely to move over to the sidewalk and explaining why that is important. Instead we have a kid in a community where the police regularly conduct militarized and traumatizing drug raids (black and whites use drugs at the same rates) and not helping at all if they got the wrong place and trashed someone’s living quarters for nothing. Police are not making raids on white fraternity houses where they are probably more likely to find drugs.
      In part because of implicit racism (racism on the unconscious level that even people who bend over backwards usually have and that has been shown to influence behavior), police target blacks and often give whites a break. You need to educate yourself on this A very readable book which contains the implicit racism test (as well as the sexism test) is Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People. See if you can get it at your library.

      • Cathy C. says:

        The police were chasing a robber that was caught on film — Why would the police invest militarized drug raids in a neighborhood that isn’t rampant in crime? Your comment about fraternities in not relevant — they are not robbing and stealing from people — We are talking about rough neighborhoods where crime is a way of life for many of these people because they aren’t working,c an’t find jobs — And they are very abusive and defiant to the police — no respect for the law or authority — Do you want State to just pull the police out of these areas? Lets see how the neighborhoods would be then — YOu want your cake and eat it — you want police protection to protect areas and then you don’t want to let them do their job — Oh excuse me they have to do their job “politely” now — Maybe they should go to Hallmark and get some greeting cards and make their requests in card with some flowers…Give me a Break —
        And if white people are racist as you imply — then seriously is there any responsibility that the black community is going to take for this? How about statistics show that half the crime in this country is committed by African Americans that is only 13% of the population?? How do you explain that? I was mugged by a black man — not once but twice in my lifetime — and I am only 30 years old.. My house was broken into (i lived in a predominantly white neighborhood) — by — a black man. How is this not going to at least leave an impression on my mind? Then when I was driving in upper Manhattan I got lost in a predominantly black neighborhood — it was SCARY — I mean gangs, guns —
        What do you expect from the White community when the statistics and experiences suggest otherwise?
        Some of my best friends and mentors are black — I am totally socially liberal and yet I see something like this happen an NOONE cares about the police officer — Maybe when he was being charged at he should have just let Michael Brown kill him– is that what you are suggesting – -S0 Michael Brown’s life is relevant but the police officer’s not? Because it appears the police officer had not other option but to defend himself — Maybe some (and I really stress some and not all) of the Black community is Reverse – Racist — Just assuming that the white police officer is mistreating him because he is black — WITHOUT THE FACTS to substanttate it — Who is the Racist here?
        I used to just read these posts and do nothing but I am not doing that anymore — I am standing up for the innocent and unjustly accused — I just feel I have an obligations.
        AT the end of the day what you are suggesting is that police officers should be hired that are basically suicidal — when charged at by a black male need to just allow him to kill or maime you — This is CRAZY — And whats more the Narcisistic Al Sharpten’sof the world – he doesn’t care about the Black race — he only cares about pushing his own agenda — which is highly outmoded — He does more damage for the Black community in the eyes of the rest of the world in my opinion.
        And finally – have you ever worked in a Jail or dealt with criminals??? Try it sometime — and maybe you taking the stance that the police officers have to politely and nicely speak to villains running from the scene of a crime on tape — will change.
        Even more finally, I will say again that this is a social class issue and not Race — and it highlights the even more important issue of getting jobs back to this country — and getting these people working.
        So — No it doesn’t bother me — I am absolutely DISGUSTED the disrespect of the Police, the authority and the way the media is handling this and others , race baiting and destroying people for not Good reason —

    • kamiscott says:

      Cathy,Cathy,Cathy…..I knew it was coming and here it is. Based on your limited negative encounters with some black people, low income out of work black people are all criminals in your eyes. You lost me when you started referring to black people as “these people”….we are all people. You solidified my belief that you are racist with those two words. It baffles me how people who want to justify the killing of an innocent person by someone that is their race always find a way to criminalize the innocent victim. Michael Brown is the victim here, not the officer. This young man would have lived if the officer had stopped shooting him after the 4th shot to the arm. He shot him in the top of his head last because Michael Brown was down on the ground bowed over from the 5th shot that hit him in the face. How can you shoot someone in the top of their head if they are coming towards you….not possible. This officer used excessive force against this unarmed teen. The chief of police stated during a press conference that the officer had no knowledge of the convenience store incident when he approached Michael Brown. He stated the only reason the officer approached Michael Brown was because he was walking in the middle of the street. He also shot Michael Brown as he was running away from him which is illegal for an officer to do. How can you be scared for your life if the person is running away from you. My biggest problem with your post is you truly believe what you wrote, and sadly there are millions of other people like you that believe the same thing about black people…..what a shame. I will say this and take it for what it is worth…….black people are the GREATEST people on this earth. We were here first….fact….we are the best at everything we do. We came over here on slave ships over 400 years ago yet today we hold the highest office in this country….President Barack Obama….I love the fact that he has an African name…..just rubs the fact that his origin is from Africa in every racist white persons face that hates him. So in conclusion try to embrace all black people not just the ones you feel in your tiny mind are good and decent, because truth is, we all are regardless of our socioeconomic background.

      • I’m going to respond to us being the greatest…before people get silly..nationalism and ethnic pride in balance is a deep part of the human condition. Most ethnic names come from terms that define a people as central, primary, divine, or as the “real humans.” We Jews still speak of ourselves. .some of us…as the Chosen People. I think ppl need to reflect on that before they respond in an irrational way to your comment. Given the OUTRAGEOUS racism in the West, I think the resilient power and relatively peaceful and law abiding response of people of African descent in the West is one of the greatest stories in the history of the world in terms of redemption and reconciliation.

      • Cathy C. says:

        Ame you go walk in East New York tonight and see if you make it out alive…..That all I can say….I really wish people weren’t so narrow minded and selective with facts. This is being a hypocrite and I wish there was more objectivity — Like “OK it is not OK for Police to assume blacks walking the streets are criminals — but then again they just came from a robbery and matched the 911 dispatch that sent the police there in the first place so maybe it wasn’t about race but maybe they were responding to a 911 call and he matched the description and was in the vicinity so maybe the police had reason to believe they were dangerous?” Or – maybe not — No rush to judgment — You rush to judgement either way (cop acted reasonably or cop acted unreasonably) — without the facts you are showing your own prejudice (either way otherwise known as reverse racism — which also exists in this country. I would like to see some accountability is all. My best friend is black and she was so nervous to take the bar exam that she was throwing up all night — I stayed with her and talked her out of it and told her how she was going to be a great lawyer and that she would be helping not only herself but the black community and that she needed to be strong for herself and the black community — Needless to say she passed and now she is an advocate for the rights of the underpriveleged — this is how you do it — not robbing stores, pillaging neighborhoods — But again these facts might be wrong – I I hear when the facts come out that this guy was not a threat and the shooting was not justifiable i will be just as mad at the police officer — so we sit back and wait for the facts and not rush to judgment.I told my black friend about this blog and she may chime in — she agrees with me 100% but she also said that I don’t know how it feels to be a black and can never know — that she too has felt “less than” the white counterpart – straightening her hair and wearing lighter makeup and all that — she said she is getting over it though… OK back to work — I am gardening today and its getting late

      • Cathy C. says:

        Cathy,Cathy,Cathy…..I knew it was coming and here it is. Based on your limited negative encounters with some black people, low income out of work black people are all criminals in your eyes. You lost me when you started referring to black people as “these people”….we are all people. You solidified my belief that you are racist with those two words.YOU SEE AS SOON AS A DIALOGUE OPENS YOU LABEL US “RACIST” — I AM NOT RACIST BUT I AM A REALIST.- I THINK YOU ARE A RACIST FOR CATEGORIZING ME THAT WAY….

        It baffles me how people who want to justify the killing of an innocent person by someone that is their race always find a way to criminalize the innocent victim. Michael Brown is the victim here, not the officer.MICHAEL BROWN WAS CHARGING AT THE OFFICER SO WAS THE OFFICER SUPPOSED TO LET HIM KILL THE OFFICER? WHAT ABOUT SELF DEFENSE??? YOU SAY HE WAS AN INNOCENT PERSON? I SAY HE WAS CHARGING AT AN OFFICER AFTER A ROBBERY OF A STORE — OK LETS WAIT FOR THE FACTS TO COME OUT BECAUSE YOUR FACTS DO NOT JIBE WITH MINE.

        This young man would have lived if the officer had stopped shooting him after the 4th shot to the arm. He shot him in the top of his head last because Michael Brown was down on the ground bowed over from the 5th shot that hit him in the face. WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH CHARGING AT HIM.

        How can you shoot someone in the top of their head if they are coming towards you….not possible. ARE YOU A FORENSIC CRIME SCENE PERSON? FROM THE FORENSICS i READ IT APPEARS THAT THIS IS CONSISTENT WITH A CHARGE — AND THERE WAS CORROBORATING TESTIMONY (WITNESS ACCOUNT) THAT THIS IS IN FACT WHAT HAPPENED — IF YOU ARE CORRECT ON THE FACTS THEN I WILL AGREE WITH YOU BUT IF YOU ARE NOT CORRECT AND THE FACTS I HAVE HEARD ARE ACCURATE THEN I WON’T AGREE WITH – WHAT ABOUT THE POLICE OFFICER’S LIFE? YOU WANT A DESTROY A PERSON WHO WAS TRYING TO DEFEND HIMSELF (IF THAT TURNS OUT TO BE THE FACT)?

        This officer used excessive force against this unarmed teen. TO SAVE HIS LIFE? DOESN’T HIS LIFE HAVE ANY VALUE? HOW DO YOU KNOW IT WAS EXCESSIVE — HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CHARGED AT BEFORE BY A FLEEING VILLAIN?

        The chief of police stated during a press conference that the officer had no knowledge of the convenience store incident when he approached Michael Brown. THERE WAS A 911 DISPATCH CALL THAT DISPATCHED THE POLICE TO THE AREA AFTER SOMEONE CALLED IN A ROBBERY — THIS EITHER HAPPENED OR IT DIDN’T – AGAIN A FACT THAT HAS TO BE ESTABLISHED.

        He stated the only reason the officer approached Michael Brown was because he was walking in the middle of the street. NO — HE FIT THE DESCRIPTION OF THE PERSON THAT THE 911 DISPATCH DESCRIBED TO HIM. (AGAIN FACT TO BE ESTABLISHED IN EVIDENCE)

        He also shot Michael Brown as he was running away from him which is illegal for an officer to do
        NO HE WAS CHARGING AT THE OFFICER – AUTOPSY AND WITNESS ACCOUNTS SUPPORT THIS.

        . How can you be scared for your life if the person is running away from you. I WOULD BE SCARED IF THEY WERE CHARGING AT ME

        My biggest problem with your post is you truly believe what you wrote, and sadly there are millions of other people like you that believe the same thing about black people…..what a shame. I will say this and take it for what it is worth…….black people are the GREATEST people on this earth. I AGREE – BLACKS ARE REALLY FOR THE MOST PART GOOD PEOPLE — I REALLY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING AGAINST ANY BLACK PERSON — I AM SORRY IF I AM COMING ACROSS THAT I DON’T LIKE BLACKS – JUST THE OPPOSITE — I THINK THAT THE MONEY GOING TO IMMIGRANTS AND FOREIGN AID SHOULD BE REDIRECTED INTO OUR ECONOMY TO GET BLACKS AND WHITE AND YELLOW AND ORANGE WORKING AND LIVING THE DREAM. OTHER THAN BEING MUGGED BY A BLACK GUY, TWICE — I DON’T REALLY HAVE ANYTHING AGAINST BLACKS — I REALLY LOOK AT PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS — BUT I THINK THAT BLACKS ARE REVERSED RACIST NOW AND NOT LIKE WHITES — LIKE WE OWE YOU SOMETHING — THIS ONLY A HANDFUL — LIKE AL SHARPTEN MAKES ME GAG — HE IS JUST AWEFUL — HE PUSHES ME IN THE WRONG DIRECTION BUT PEOPLE LIKE OPRAH AND DENZEL — THESE ARE GREAT PEOPLE —

        We were here first….fact….we are the best at everything we do. We came over here on slave ships over 400 years ago yet today we hold the highest office in this country….President Barack Obama….I love the fact that he has an African name…..just rubs the fact that his origin is from Africa in every racist white persons face that hates him. BUT WE VOTED HIM IN — WE ARE THE MAJORITY IN THE COUNTRY — SO WE VOTED HIM IN AND UNFORTUNATLY HE IS BY FAR THE WORST PRESIDENT THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER SEEN — AND THAT IS A SHAME — EVERYTHING FROM IMMIGRATION TO FOREIGN POLICY TO DEBT TO BREAKING LAWS NOT RESPECTING THE CONSTITUTION — A HORROR.

        So in conclusion try to embrace all black people not just the ones you feel in your tiny mind are good and decent, because truth is, we all are regardless of our socioeconomic background. I WILL EMBRACE YOU — YOU WILL EMBRACE US — WILL YOU EVER FORGIVE US FOR THE ACTIONS OF OUR ANCESTORS???? WHAT DOES IT TAKE?

  54. Paul says:

    That perspective was written better than I could ever have done! Thanks, Cathy!

  55. Denise Shungu says:

    I think that the situation in Ferguson calls for a national teach-in on implicit (unconscious) racism and how it affects policing (and many other things). I do not see how my fellow whites can be brought to the table until they understand this or are at least encouraged to take the test demonstrating it.
    Thank you for talking about the Gates arrest again. I have felt that that incident never had a resolution.

    • Cathy C. says:

      I think it calls for the Black community to reassess their opinions towards white people, and to be accountable for their part in the alleged racism that still persists (in your opinion) today — it seems like they want their criminals to be treated “better” than white criminals – The world is changing and we are not going to put up with this nonsense anymore — Its a new generation — we are growing up seeing our black friends get the minority scholarships and placements in school while we had to pay the student loans and do better just to get into a decent college while they just sailed in because they were black — We have experienced an unfair discriminatory edge that has been given to blacks to correct a history of wrongdoing that happened before we were born — but we had to bare the brunt of it — by getting disparate disfavored unequal treatment — I remember going to college and asking if there were any grants and them saying “Are you a minority?” and me saying” No?” and them saying “Oh – we only have scholarships for minorities, and really just blacks at the moment” — I said ” I can’t afford to go without it” and they said “Oh well — sorry” — You want to talk about reverse racism about discrimination — That is my generation and we are a lot less tolerant for Al Sharpten’s BS — and then we vote in as a majority a black president who has by and far been the worst president in the history of presidents — but that isn’t good enough — So when is it ever enough? When are we going to stop owing the black community? in my lifetime, my children’s, their children’s? THIS IS REALLY GETTING OLD … This guy was charging at a police officer and the police officer defended his LIFE… END OF STORY .. These communities are dangerous — and more dangerous to each other ironically — They need REAL HELP — jobs, better schooling — this is a problem of an epidemic proportion… …..

  56. Oh no Ma’am. I LOVE Rev. Barber..I just quoted his brilliant 3rd Reconstruction comment. He is a true man of the people.

  57. Please reread what I wrote, but he has my UTMOST respect, 100 %

  58. Few in the national media connected the dots between the heated, racialized rhetoric of what civil rights activist Rev. William Barber of North Carolina has called , “the third Reconstruction,” with the recent spate of confrontations between police and African American men, women and children. Ms.Kay, I am calling the RHETORIC racialized, NOT Rev. Barber.

  59. Kay says:

    Thank you for correcting me! Is there any way to delete my comment? If so, please remove it.

  60. Pingback: The Moral Universe – Bleedin’ Missouri | The Moral Universe

  61. Cathy C. says:

    Michael one more word then I have to get back to work — I think you are a kindred spirit — I don’t want you to think that I am invalidating anything that you have said — Only trying to find real solutions so that we as a country can get to the next level as a country. Aside from a few negative experiences I have had and mentioned in my reply to someone asking me a question – I want to say that one of my personal mentors is black, some of my best friends are black…. And I think you are great! Kudos for getting involved and opening a discussion.

    • Cathy, I agree with you completely about how much class plays in this, but I am sorry that you have such a blind spot concerning race. Since you have had several negative experiences, it is clouding your judgment in my opinion.
      You are making 2 assumptions when talking about Michael Brown that I have not heard validated: 1. That the officer knew ahead of time that Michael Brown had been involved in a robbery and 2. That the police officer was being charged. The autopsy report I heard said the arm shots were inconclusive and the last head shot was consistent with being shot while falling, but that information from other sources would be needed to make a definite determination of what happened. Since there are conflicting eye witness reports, I don’t know if we will be ever certain.

      • Cathy C. says:

        I don’t have a blind spot concerning race — I am asking that the black community be accountable for their part for “WHY” racism may still persist — I know a lot of fine black people — and I know a lot of horrible white people — You can’t negate the statistics — and many crimes are in places that are policed and run by blacks (so you can’t blame the statistics on a skewed fact reporting of white people).
        I agree my judgment has been clouded but who caused that? Do you blame me? I would appreciate if you would see both sides objectively. The facts I have seen have only been in the media but 1. the autopsy report showed that the shots were consistent with him charging at the officer which was also corroborated with witness reports — At this point it is pretty much stipulated that he in fact charged at the officer.
        Insofar as the assumption of him knowing that he came from a robbery — the witness accounts and his own account were that he was chasing them because of the robbery — so he knew he was chasing a criminal — him being a criminal substantiated after the fact by the tape that was released showing him rob the store — but yes he knew.
        So does this now change your opinion? That this police officer was doing his job — trying to apprehend a robber who fought him and shoved him before running off – the police officer chased him and then he turned around and charged at him — These facts are pretty much stipulated at this point.
        Now knowing the correct facts, does this change your opinion that the police officer had the right to defend himself?
        if you agree on these facts, or hypothetically if these facts are proven true then if you are suggesting that the police officer shoul dhave done nothing to protect himself from getting killed or maimed then you are suggesting that the police officer’s life is less valuable then the fleeing villain, and that a part of the job is allowing yourself to be attacked and killed when fleeing villain comes charging at you.
        Is this your point of view?

    • I don’t agree with you on some things, and I agree with you on others, but I appreciate your opinions and your voice. Dialogue is key.

      • Cathy C. says:

        Thanks Michael for your nice comment — All I am trying to get at is that I would rather us put the attention into getting these people out of this horrible lifestyle and into a better situation that they can make a nice living for themselves and not having to resort to a life of crime and drudgery — I think they are stuck in this and can’t really get out and don’t really care about anything, or even themselves — I think this craziness is a cry for help from the Poor black community — when I saw Katrina and the amount of poor blacks in Louisiana it made me very upset — and there are a lot of poor whites and hispanics too — I am thinking about the poor in general….Obama and democrats think they are helping them — they are not — we need to get our companies to created more jobs — subsidizing them in these projects is like holding them there — there should be no projects — its like they are born into this poverty — some escape — rappers and sports etc. but most don’t and this is the problem — they need to, from the beginning hear “you can have a great life” and then be actually given the opportunity to make that happen instead of being stuck in an environment that will end up with them dead or in jail. I think the dialogue has to shift — instead of a blame game to a solution game — and the economy is key….. The worst part about these communities is that they are kiilling and maiming eachother, robbing and pillging eachother — You dont want the police to start looking away and not doing anything to help them because they are afraid to do their job… Lots of issues — and there is a solution….. We just have to keep working harder to find it…. and I believe we will …..we just have to keep talking and I am one of the very few white people that will be frank with you — most white people are scared to say what they feel for fear of ramifications — they will be called racist etc. I am not fearful because I know I am not racist – and I know that until we can really communicate our issues and frustrations with the black community we will be at an impasse….

      • For Cathy C. I think I was not sympathetic enough yesterday. I do remember how hard it was to come to terms with things that happened to me as a young adult. I, personally, have had things taken from me by both whites and blacks, so race was not an issue for me in the same way it is for you. I think you have made a good start by recognizing how much class plays a role, but there are other issues you are struggling with that need resolution. I wish you a successful conclusion to your journey.

        As far as a blind spot, if you are human, you have one. The area of brain research is one of exciting discovery right now, and one of the things they are learning is how much the unconscious plays in our behaviors. It is unconscious so our conscious mind is usually not aware of it. They come up with ingenious tests to determine what is going on. People my age almost always have an unconscious bias against blacks. In the young, as a generalization, it is less pronounced, but still there. It is so pervasive that many African Americans (not Africans) have this bias against black people as well. I have not seen that they have figured out how to alter this in adults although attempts are being made. Maybe in 5 years they will know. For now it is enough to recognize that we probably have an unconscious bias against black people and try to compensate consciously.

      • Yesterday Lawrence O’Donnell laid out a stunning indictment of the “conflicting testimony” as laid out in the shoddily reported article in the NYT. They didn’t report the story accurately. I’m not upset I’d the details don’t match my narrative. .but don’t offer up uncorroborated hearsay as evidence especially when it came from the cops in Ferguson alone!!

      • Cathy C. says:

        The autopsy report was ordered by Holder — this wasn’t the police unless you don’t trust him either. I do think you are right unit the facts are established one way or the other everything is unstipulated — its just when you prove a case many times it is based on circumstantial evidence that is proven by witness testimony and autopsy reports etc. Thus far it appears that the shooting was done in self defense — but when the facts are brought out legally this is when the real decision comes and not by the media — I think the media is not the correct basis to make assumptions but I think that the Black community should not be rushing to judgment that the police officer acted wrongfully until it is proven that he has — otherwise you as a group lose your credibility to be objective in these situations and that is not going to help you as a group. I know that you want to believe you want to believe and want to see things in that lens accordingly — I am just asking (all experiences and preconceived notions from both sides aside) — to be OBJECTIVE and to look at the situation with a clear evidence-focused lens. I would like JUSTICE TO BE SERVED — Justice will not be served if the police officer wrongfully shot and killed him because he was a black defiant if evidence does not show that he was in harm’s way — This would not be justice to Michael or his family, the black community or the white community or the world.
        Justice will also not be done if it is shown that the police officer acted reasonably in self defense and yet he is condemned and criminalized for doing his job and protecting his life — this would not be justice for anyone and would really hurt the black community in my opinion because the police officers just won’t put themselves in harm;s way or even deal with the criminals if they thing they are going to be destroyed or condemned for doing so. And it is not just the police officer, its his wife, his children, his friends and other family — you are destroying in the process — and they matter too…. So lets be Objective and not Rush to Judgment either way..

      • I’m sorry but Denise but many white Americans would be exhausted and screaming to be let out if they had to spend one day dealing with real systemic racism.

      • Cathy C. says:

        So can you respond to this?
        http://www.wnd.com/2014/08/black-cop-kills-white-man-media-hide-race/

        With all due respect, I think the race baiting in this country is causing more division — Maybe we don’t know what it is like to walk in your shoes but you don’t know what it is like to walk in ours — Maybe you attribute race to things wrongfully due to your own sensitivity — have you considered that? Maybe exactly the same thing would have happened if the guy was white but — there would be no media uprising — See the link — Not one mention of this nationally? I actually think that Blacks want to be treated better than Whites — I see evidence of this all the time and it is really getting tiresome….then there is no accountability for the black “contributory fault” in any “racism” that still exists – like u,mm why is crime 50% committed by Blacks that are only 13% of the popultion — Oh thats right its our fault — everything is our fault….. we don’t give Blacks opportunities that is why there is a Black President and Kayne West is worth 50 Million dollars, Oprah Winfrey – Don’t you get it — we are not buying this anymore…… NO MORE….You want to be hard working respectful citizen you can have it all — you want to be a criminal and take to the streets against the police well then the rest of us are going to have a problem with you. We have to have rules and order or else we will have chaos — Look at the fall of Rome — Go back in history further then the young United States… They had slaves all over the world and in some cultures you could go from a slave to a rich (unslaved) man – WE ARE DONE OWING YOU for what our ancestors did before we were born…. Maybe this is the discussion we need to have. If you really want to help blacks you need to get them out of the high crime statistics– get them jobs — THis president is helping illegal immigrants from south america over helping the poor in Detroit and St. Lois – Hey whats up with that???? The blacks have been here longer than anyone — they shouldn’t still be poor and impoverished (some of them) — The money of this government has to be redirected to get tehe capitalists to want to open the factory or the company near these areas to get these people working and feeling good about themselves and the communities — we need real solution — A police chasing a guy who charges at him and shoots him in self defense is not what you should be ailing about….. you should be like — Obama why is this guy robbing a store — does he not have enough money to buy his lunch? These people out of survival resort to a life of violence and the are socio-economically disabled — But lets put the money into non-US citizens who have entered here illegally instead? HUhhh??????? I have friends that live in areas that are zoned in schools that are more than 50% black — these people have to send their kids to private school to avoid their children being in harms way — guns, violence — There is a huge difference between schools predominantly white and predominantly black– I am taking safety issues — Whats up with that? I am throwing this back to the black community — Whats up with this??????? You don’t want us to have preconceived notions but you perpetuate those very notions !!! Mike I think you are awesome — I think you are great but see things from our prospective — and I will try to do the same. I really want you to look at upper class blacks verses the poor blacks and tell me if there is a major difference. I will acknowledge the continued perception of the black community that they are treated less than…..

      • Cathy, what would you say about Jewish advocacy for past oppression? In Germany it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. Germany paid reparations to Israel. The U.S. gives billions to Israel partly based on the politics surrounding the Holocaust and the founding of Israel. Are you prepared to say that the U.S. should not give resources to Israel or that Jews should just give it up? The U.S. had very little to do with the Holocaust except turning away some refugees..like the St. Louis ship incident. There is a national Holocaust museum supported by your tax dollars…a short walk from where enslaved people were sold on the Capitol steps…when 2\3 of the American economy depended on the enslaved..but there is no national slavery museum on the mall. Are you ok with all this? My point is that very few on the right ever subject the Jewish community, to which I also belong, to the same searing scrutiny that they hold African Americans.

      • Cathy C. says:

        Thanks Denise. I forgot to mention that when I went to a public highschool I was standing in front of the principal’s office and a black kid ran up to me and ripped a gold necklace off of my person– RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE PRINCIPAL’S office. There are so many examples like this that you are right I have a blind spot that was created from being violated by blacks.; Another situation was — my friend hired a nanny – a live in and had four prior nannies all from eastern Europe — Poland and Germany, France. So,her Au Pair was going back to to I think Germany so she needed a new live in nanny. She found a black American girl (age 19 or 20) and hired her. She was completely race color blind so to speak — After two months she realized that all of her children’s video games were missing — I mean all of them — Finally the black nanny admitted to stealing them. Things like this happen unfortunately more often than not and before you know it you just have preconceived notions that are placed there due to your and your friends and collegues experiences — and it really sucks for the nice hardworking black people — But I notice that it is a class thing most of the time — This nanny was from a poor black area where crime was rampant — The upscale blacks would NEVER EVER have done that — My friend had a total of 8 nannys over like 8 years or so and she said that no one have ever stolen from her (and she had hispanic nannies too I forgot) — It is like they ruin it for themselves as a race by this continued bad behavior. Haven’t you ever heard the express fool me once its your fault – fool me twice its my fault — Many white people are at the second stage because they have been prior violated by a black person….
        All the above being said, I don’t want nor do I think it is fair to blame an entire race on the actions of a few — and I have to grapple with this — and I don’t want my children to have preconceived notions about blacks — My very best mentor was black (still friends with her today and she is the best in her field) — my first divorce lawyer was black… This is the conundrum — I really think that I have a fear of the low socio economic blacks but also the low socio economic whites — because they have little or nothing to lose….
        I will say one thing – AND THIS IS IMPORTANT – Michael I want you to read this: I think that blacks don’t realize that Police treat everyone like crap — and I mean everyone — I was once driving in a brand new AUDI (I was a passenger) — We got pulled over for no good reason (maybe a little speeding by the driver but nothing serious) — The PO ordered the driver out of the car and started interrogating him — then told me get off my smart phone and then took all of our drivers’ licences — He was mean and rude and treated us like farm animals at best. This happens to white people too — I don’t think that the Black community gets this — that the police treat us disrepsectfully too. I really felt like I was being treated horribly. Actually because I am a dark skinned white I thought that maybe he was treating me like that because of my ethinicity but the driver and the rest of my friends were like light skinned whites — more Northern European (I am greek and indian and people mistake me for being hispanic every now and again) —
        So to the Black community — I think that you being mistreated by the police is not because of your race — it happens to us just the same — and I can tell you of countless examples.
        OK back to work — Denise after reading this site I will try to improve my outlook — I love the guy that has this site — He is awesome — I ironically classify myself as a social liberal — So guess I will have to work on myself.
        ,

  62. mozela9 says:

    all good – to me?- become an activist-deeds- whether violent? or non violent?- I tend to Dorothy Day non violence- however-
    for all yr words- let’s discuss tactics as to how best over throw/subvert/sabotage this capitalist system
    I recommend the group SPARK and their tactics.
    or CODE PINK-
    I don’t see how endless words helps us- just give us some good tools (and I am a poet!!!!!!!) (to me- most amurikan poetry these days is academic and febrile)

  63. David says:

    Hey cuzzo! This was very well thought of and written. Now about that spineless bastard the pulled that gun on you….. They think they are tough with those guns and authority. That is until they mess with the wrong person or that person’s family. Everyone ain’t about the judicial system. There are some people out there that look at threats against family the same way it is perceived in the animal kingdom. There is no right or wrong when protecting family. And there are those out there that enjoy returning the favor to those who do their family wrong. Ones that wait for instances like this. Things can easily get out of hand if the people in charge don’t start cracking down on incidents like these. I just hope it gets sorted out before it comes to that. Sorry cuz. Haven’t taken my meds today.

  64. corkingiron says:

    Absolutely brilliant piece of writing. Thank you.

  65. Gary Roth says:

    Michael, this is a most appropriate place to talk about what has happened, and continues to happen, among us. I am a pastor, and am aware that one of the central sacraments of our church is about food, about gathering at the table and burying our differences there. Paul declared that the main evidence of the resurrection was not the reanimated body of Jesus, but the breaking down of barriers between people, which is celebrated at the table. Jesus’ table was a welcoming one, a place where his empathy for the oppressed and the outsider was felt most keenly – it was that, and the hope connected to that open table, that made it the central sacrament of the church. What you do is not “just about food,” it is about coming to the table, and therefore about justice and righteousness as well, it is about the hope of a “feast of good things” that all people, of whatever faith, hope for. Thank you for your pointed and poignant reflection.

  66. Your post confronts a painful truth that I would rather were not there. Unfortunately, it exists in too many places today.
    (Also unfortunately, the private autopsy of Michael Brown’s body revealed that his hands were not in fact up in surrender when shot. This proves nothing except inaccurate eyewitnesses to a degree, but I just wanted you to know.)
    I did not read your entire post because I have mono and my eyes are aching like crazy, but from what I did read, I am disgusted with humanity. Hopefully in the future ethnic prejudice can be eradicated. God bless you. Praying for you and us all.

  67. ame says:

    So beautifully written. Wow. I am a white woman from St. Louis. I don’t even know where to begin with the level of disgust in this situation, and my anger for what happened to that boy. I shared the below on a forum I frequent, and it was met with a thoughtful discussion. Thought I’d share it with you.

    I am from St. Louis, lived here all my life save for college. I live about opposite Ferguson on a map within the County, and I am disgusted and ashamed by the way our police, those who should be protecting and serving us–ALL OF US–are behaving, have behaved. A young man was gunned down by a police officer, on duty, in uniform, in front of witnesses, some of whom have provided the investigating departments with their evidence, some of whom were not interviewed for days after the incident. His parents weren’t spoken with or even apologized to, and until just a couple days ago weren’t able to take possession of his body, which after lying in the street for hours, was shoved carelessly into an SUV, not taken away in a Coroner’s Van or Ambulance as would typically occur, which they had independently autopsied, and who knows what will be discovered between the three autopsies. I don’t believe for a second that his killing was justified, not one single millisecond, because if there was evidence indicating otherwise, we would have heard it by now, versus the smear campaign that bumbling airhead of a chief provided almost a week after the original incident, a week after the protests and rioting began. The fact that there is NO transparency in this investigation is telling. And frightening. The fact that the FBI and DOJ were almost immediately brought in to investigate alongside the county is equally telling.

    I am further outraged that there was and is a “media blackout” surrounding the current events unfolding in that suburb. And a serious slant, as often occurs when it’s a black man’s death. Notice how headlines usually read in these cases. If it’s a white kid, “Stellar student, bit rebellious” vs a black student “Thug, hard to handle.” What if he was brilliant and a stellar student and was in no way a thug? We’ll never know, because the media refuses to acknowledge that. I relied on Antonio French and his constant Twitter updates for accurate reporting of what was going on as it happened, as well as the The St. Louis Post-Dispatch & STLtoday.com photographers and the few reporters from local and national media that were able to stay in the fray. I am enraged that many of them have been arrested, as well as SENATORS who were also PEACEFULLY PROTESTING, after being shot at, teargassed, having lasers on sniper rifles pointed at them, among other atrocities not even experienced by active military in actual warzones, enacted at them by our local police–our County Police (Ferguson doesn’t have such equipment itself, the County does). It is illegal to ban journalism and the media from filming you in action. Look it up. And every lawsuit disputing that finds against law enforcement, every. single. time. And your desire to not be filmed in action further indicates you’re DOING SOMETHING WRONG. The Huffington Post and Washington Post reporters who were arrested and assaulted ON FILM last week at McDonalds by our local officers exposed nationally how grave this situation really is. Our Police Chief didn’t even know about it til another member of the media alerted him to it. His reaction? Oh g-d! Right answer. Al-Jazeera America’s crew got attacked with a teargas canister last week, while being filmed by another news crew. While they were fleeing from the gas, the officers swarmed their equipment, trying to seize it. When they realized they were being filmed by the other crew, they stopped and retreated. That is not acceptable. They tried to release a statement that they were simply aiding them in taking it down to keep them safe, but the video tells a different story. That was the first night most people even knew what the hell was happening in this city, where the citizens here had several days to form opinions, many against the Black community and in favor of the police actions by that point.

    The protesting is peaceful until the militarized police arrive, with their tanks and snipers and assault rifles. Ferguson itself doesn’t have this type of force, they’re backed by the St. Louis County Police Department, and surrounding Municipalities. Each and every time there’s been a gathering without officers, it’s gone just fine, no issues. But when you bring in an over armed force such as this, things will escalate. There will be instigators. Citizens will feel threatened and will retaliate, as will those coming in from elsewhere who are equally angry and take advantage of this situation. Telling people to “go home” when they ARE HOME does not aid this. Gassing them from one end of the street to tell them to go to the other, where they’ll then be gassed again, that also doesn’t help. Gassing people who brought their kids, to show them how to stand up for themselves, equally appalling.

    The fact that more local citizens–frankly, WHITE citizens–are not outraged by this, and instead are choosing to take the “these n-word animals deserve it” stance–I see it all over my Facebook feed, hear it around me in public, I see it on my television and hear it on my radio–it makes me angry on the verge of tears. The fact that the KKK came out to one of their peaceful protests (in Clayton) in full hoods and is offering “protection” to the chosen whites who fear “them” made me nearly vomit. While others f@cking cheer. This is Missouri, this is the cross section of our country. And that is sickening. Equally sickening to that horrifying image you were seeing of the food around that boy’s body.

    I am white, and I can state with certainty that there is “white privilege.” Here and everywhere. I am a beneficiary of it. I have been beneficiary of it my entire life. I have no idea what these folks in Ferguson, really anyone of a different race, anywhere, experience. The most “profiling” I experience is when I go to a more wealthy area than where I live and I am “cased” by residents and shopkeepers alike to gauge my wealth level and whether or not I am able to spend money in their stores on what I am looking at. It doesn’t make it any less obnoxious, but then they take my money, if I choose to spend it there, compliment my hair, or my purse or my jewelry/clothing, and I go on my way. A blip in their day. These folks often, usually, don’t get that benefit, because in some of the areas I shop, the municipality police are typically immediately called because an African American dared to enter that jurisdiction, and couldn’t possibly afford to be there shopping, and could only be there to steal or cause problems. Everyday this happens.

    It’s disgusting and it needs to stop. People of different races, creeds, sexes are EQUAL, and they should be treated as such. I really don’t understand why we haven’t come farther in society, and how we’ve actually gone backwards.

    I stand with Ferguson. I will remember that Michael Brown did not deserve his fate, just like many others before and after him didn’t deserve theirs. I know this is a hot topic, and it’s also a hot enough topic that many people don’t even KNOW about it. Last week I believe it really hit the fans enough that it’s spreading. You might not agree with my stance, but I LIVE HERE, and I KNOW THIS CITY. It’s not all bubblegum and lollipops in that area, but the majority of those people are great people and don’t want the garbage that is going on. They want justice and answers for this kid and his family. They, like the rest of us here, want to feel safe and like we’re not going to experience the same thing he did. I know I don’t really trust my local police to keep me safe anymore, I don’t trust them to “protect and serve” anymore, because what’s to stop them from training a sniper rifle on me? Just the color of my skin? The statistics are real. They’re out there. And they’re scary.

  68. kamiscott says:

    Hats off you Michael, loved reading every word. I have too many stories to mention about driving while black, black women aren’t exempt. The fact that this continues to happen saddens me deeply. I hope this officer is arrested and charged with murder. The word on the street is people are fed up and want to see this butchery of young black males by racist white officers come to an end by any means neccesary. I don’t know what the future holds but I will say we all need to be prepared because it may get worse before it gets better.

  69. Cathy C. says:

    RESPONDING TO: Cathy, what would you say about Jewish advocacy for past oppression? In Germany it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. DO YOU THINK THAT THE JEWISH PERSON SHOULD GET INTO COLLEGE WITJ A FULL SCHOLARSHIP BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENED IN WWII OR THAT COLLEGES SHOULD USE RACE AS A BASIS OF ADMISSIONS TO MAKE SURE MORE BLACKS ARE IN COLLEGES? DO TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT???

    Germany paid reparations to Israel. GERMANY TOOK THE PROPERTY OF THE JEWS AND KILLED SIX MILLION IN GAS CHAMBERS IN THE 20TH CENTURY — ARE YOU SAYING WE OWE YOU BILLIONS OF DOLLARS BECAUSE IN 1600’S YOU WERE BROUGHT HERE IN COLONIAL TIMES (WHEN THE REST OF THE WORLD LIKEWISE HAD SLAVES) TO BUILD A NEW COUNTRY?

    The U.S. gives billions to Israel partly based on the politics surrounding the Holocaust and the founding of Israel. THE PROBLEM WITH ISRAEL IS THAT IF IT DOESN’T RECEIVE PROTECTION FROM THE SECURITY COUNCIL OF THE UN IT WOULD BE DEMOLISHED BY ITS SURROUNDING COUNTRIES — I ACTUALLY THOUGH THINK THAT THE US HAS TO BE MORE EVEN HANDED IN DEALING WITH THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AND NOT ALWAYS SIDE WITH ISRAEL — US AND THE SECURITY COUNCIL (THE UNITED NATIONS) SHOULD BE EVEN-HANDED — THE US DOESN’T GIVE BILLIONS TO ISRAEL — JEWISH AMERICANS DO — I KNOW — I WAS MARRIED TO ONE.

    Are you prepared to say that the U.S. should not give resources to Israel or that Jews should just give it up? I THINK THE UNITED NATIONS SHOULD SUPPORT PEACE IN ISRAEL AND SHOULD NOT BE ONE-SIDED — IF ISRAEL BUMPS OUT A MUSLIM GROUP WRONGFULLY THEN IT SHOULD NOT BE SUPPORTED FOR THIS AND VICE VERSA – THE MIDDLE EAST IS A VERY TOUCHY SUBJECT AND THE RELIGIOUS GROUNDS IN ISRAEL UNFORTUNATELY ARE SHARED BY JEWS, CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS AND IN SOME SITUATIONS YOU ARE LEFT WITH “WHO IS RIGHT IN THIS SITUATION”? i THINK MUSLIM REPRESENTATION IS IN FACT UNDER-REPRESENTED BY THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE END OF THE DAY — BUT EACH SITUATION HAS TO BE VIEWED ON A SEPARATE AND INDIVIDUAL BASIS AND REALLY WE SHOULD BUT OUT UNLESS WE SEE ISRAEL AS IN MAJOR JEOPARDY (AS WITH ANY OTHER COUNTRY, I.E, UKRAINE)

    The U.S. had very little to do with the Holocaust except turning away some refugees..like the St. Louis ship incident. There is a national Holocaust museum supported by your tax dollars…a short walk from where enslaved people were sold on the Capitol steps…when 2\3 of the American economy depended on the enslaved..but there is no national slavery museum on the mall. Are you ok with all this? My point is that very few on the right ever subject the Jewish community, to which I also belong, to the same searing scrutiny that they hold African Americans.

    OMG THERE ARE PLENTY OF MUSEUMS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_museums_focused_on_African_Americans

    i AM NOT SURE WHAT YOU WANT FROM US…..

    • But why pay Israel? There was NO Israel in 1939-1945. Why should your tax dollars go to Israel…if people should take care of themselves and so should nations, why is that your problem? I’m just taking an opposites approach here. The U.S. certainly DOES give money to Israel.

      • Cathy C. says:

        We give money to Israel (which I disagree with 100%) but Obama gave six African countries 7 billion dollars a piece last year — that is $49 billion dollars when we have communities like St. Lois, Detroit, Chicago and New York that are dirt poor — I agree charity begins at Home and our Americans need it — No money should be going anywhere when we need it here…..
        SO I AGREE WITH YOU ON THIS POINT — no Foreign money unless and until our own are taken care but —- money given is with Strings attached (OPEC etc.) — so you have to see what benefit we are getting in return for the alleged foreign aid — and if none or not anywhere close then NO — NO money should be going to ISRAEL or AFRICA – PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Cathy C. says:

        AGREE AS TO THIS POINT — CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME.- IT SHOULDN’T BE GOING ANYWHERE UNLESS THERE IS A UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL MANDATE — A WORLD PEACE INITIATIVE TYPE OF THING — OTHERWISE I DON’T WANT MY TAX PAYING MONEY GOING THERE.
        TO ALL i WILL TRY TO USE THIS BLOG AND EXPERIENCE TO BE MORE UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR FEELINGS — I DON’T WANT ANYONE TO FEEL BAD OR THAT THEIR FEELINGS ARE INVALID — IT SEEMS TO BE A VERY PERSONAL SENSITIVE ISSUE AND I AM SORRY IT IS AND HOPEFULLY IT WON’T BE IN TEN OR 20 YEARS FROM NOW — WE WILL LOOK BACK AND BE LIKE “WOW I CAN’T BELIEVE PEOPLE THOUGHT LIKE THAT” — WHEN i READ STALIN AND MARX AND OTHER PHILOSOPHERS (BURKE) I REMEMBER THEM SAYING THAT SOCIETY – HUMAN NATURE IS SUCH THAT THEY ALWAYS WANT TO FIND A CLASS THAT THEY PUT DOWN — AND MAYBE THEY ARE RIGHT — I DO REMEMBER HENRY ROUSSEAU SAYING “CIRCUMSTANCES GIVE TO EVERY PRINCIPAL THEIR DISTINGUISHING COLOR AND DISCRIMINATING EFFECT” — THIS HAS SAT WITH ME SINCE THE FIRST YEAR IN COLLEGE AND IT REALLY MAKES ME NOT RUSH TO JUDGEMENT — I REALLY WANT TO KNOW ALL OF THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES IN A CASE BEFORE I ADJUDGE IF THE ACTIONS WERE RIGHT AND REASONABLE OR WRONGFUL AND NOT REASONABLE — MY THOUGHT IS THAT THE MICHAEL BROWN CASE HIT THE ACHILLES HEEL OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY LIKE A POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER OF A RACE OF PEOPLE — AND i GUESS THAT IT IS GOING TO TAKE TIME FOR SOCIETY TO HEAL FROM THE WRONGS OF THE PAST — SIMPLY PASSING LAWS AND GIVING AFFIRMATIVE ACTION ISN’T ENOUGH TO HEAL THE WOUNDS TO THE SOUL OF THE AFRICAN AMERICANS — MAYBE TIME WILL HEAL THIS GAPING HOLE AND RESPECT AND ATTENTION WILL BE GIVEN TO THE AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE AND ALL OF THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS COUNTRY AND WORDWIDE – I BELIEVE HAVING A BLACK PRESIDENT IS A HUGE STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION — YOU HAVE BLACK JUDGES, SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, LEGISLATIVES ETC. YOU HAVE TO SEE THAT THERE HAVE BEEN MAJOR ADVANCEMENTS. i ALSO FEEL THAT THE BLACK COMMUNITY HAS TO BE FORGIVING AND NICE TO THE WHITE COMMUNITY AS WELL. WHEN I WAS IN FOURTH GRADE MY (BLACK) TEACHER ACCUSED ME OF CHEATING ON A TEST, FOLLOWED ME IN TO THE BATHROOM AND CALLED ME A “LYING CRACKER” — I REMEMBER IT TO THIS DAY (I AM 30) AND THAT DID NOT HELP IMPRESSION OF THE BLACKS — — FUNNY I PROBABLY COULD HAVE HAD HER FIRED BUT i JUST DISMISSED IT — AND I DIDN’T CHEAT SHE JUST COULDN’T HANDLE THAT I HAD THE HIGHEST GRADE …..I HAVE HAD COUNTLESS EXPERIENCES THAT ARE REVERSE-RACIST AND I JUST WANT YOU TO BE AWARE THAT IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO AND THERE IS REVERSE RACISM….. I HAD A FRIEND IN THE FOURTH GRADE WHO ONE DAY SAID TO ME “I CAN’T BE YOUR FRIEND ANYMORE BECAUSE YOU ARE WHITE” — I WAS CRUSHED — LIKE WTF???? SHE JUST SAID THAT HER MOM THOUGHT IT BETTER THAT SHE BE FRIENDS WITH OTHER BLACK GIRLS – AND SO BE IT….. THIS IS FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN- YOU ARE LUCKY i AM HONEST BC MOST WHITE PEOPLE JUST STAY QUIET LIKE “YEAH WHATEVER — I AM NOT GOING TO COMMENT — YOU WILL JUST CALL ME A RACIST” — AND ITS TRUE — YOU TRY TO GET YOUR POINT ACROSS AND BOOM “YOUR A RACIST!” — WE ARE TIRED OF THIS.
        THANKS FOR YOUR BLOG AND GETTING INVOLVED AND INVOLVING ALL OF US AND NOT JUST THE REVEREND SHARPTON FOLLOWERS OF THE WORLD WHO JUST WANT TO CHANT WHAT THEY WANT WITH NO REGARD FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD OR WHO THEY HURT IN THE PROCESS.
        I ADMIRE YOU AND APPRECIATE THE STOP BY ON THE BLOG.
        i PROBABLY WON’T VISIT BACK FOR A WHILE BECAUSE I REALIZE MY OPINION IS PERSONA NON GRATA.
        I WILL TAKE FROM THIS TO BE MORE SENSITIVE AND MORE UNDERSTANDING OF THE DEEP HURT FROM WHICH THIS EMANATES BEFORE I RUSH TO JUDGMENT OR ALLOW PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS TO INFILTRATE MY HEAD…I PROMISE YOU I WILL INDEED DO THIS. I WANT TO BE A POSITIVE FORCE IN THIS FORCE WORLD HELPING PEOPLE AND SO SELF REFLECTION SEEMS TO BE IN LINE… i REALLY FELT BAD WHEN ONE GUY WAS LIKE “AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE THE BEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD” — I FELT LIKE OMG THIS POOR GUY – I FELT LIKE I WAS HURTING A CHILD — IT STRUCK A CHORD — I REALLY WILL BE MORE COGNIZANT AND MINDFUL OF THIS.
        THANKS,
        CATHY

  70. Laura Plumb says:

    Thank you and Amen! God bless you, Michael Twitty. You are brave and good.

  71. Michael, whatever led you to believe that I would not agree with your post to me? The thing I have most taken away from this blog is that people don’t read each other’s posts very carefully.
    If you are referring to my saying that I had to work through some things when I was younger, I never once said that these things were in any way related to race or what someone else might go through. They were more related to gender and mental illness (not mine, thank heavens) and that is all I want to say on a public blog. Did I guess correctly about what you were referring to?

  72. Powerful. I am feeling humbled because your words ring true.

  73. Dreamer9177 says:

    Absolutely brilliant!

  74. Finus1 says:

    Michael I just happened upon this post and I thank you for sharing you views and experiences. If I could I’d give you a big hug. I’m so glad you are here to tell your story and that cop didn’t decide on his own that you were not worthy of being here.

  75. maggiezee says:

    I am not sure why you say the hate speech has only been around for 7 years. If you see it as 7 years, that is the age of the second generation. The hate speech started with RL (no free ads here) more than 20 years ago, maybe 25. People are glad his influence is waning and that it is only the older folks who listen Problem? Big problem. Think of all of the children raised listening to RL in the background. I think it can be absorbed more subconciously than conciously. Primary and secondary listeners have been listenting to him “preach”, what 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. Maybe they even run him on the w/es. Compare that to how much “devout” people listen to their spiritual leader. The instilled hate speech has added fuel to the already present racism. It’s influence is not going anywhere fast.

    • I remember when 18 years ago he had a TV show and joked about enslaved Africans being thrown to the sharks from slave ships. I watched that with my own eyes. So yes, this is not a surprise. .at all..

  76. Jan Joe says:

    Thank you for your honesty, for a powerful, thoughtful, straight from the heart message. I want to state that white guilt in these pressing matters only clouds the issues. It is with a heavy heart that I understand your words, not your experiences. I pray for resolutions of the deep inequities that continue to deeply divide our nation and its people. Paraphrasing from multitudes of authors, philosophers, social activists and humanitarians: the walls that one builds to keep others out also confines one. Again, thank you. P. S. It took me almost a lifetime to learn that it is OK to be angry, that anger is a process towards resolution.

  77. annkelley14 says:

    Very profound statement. Certainly relate on pretty much all topics. My concern is I had change political parties during Bush Admin but now I just don’t know! Lived in both Alabama and New Jersey during 60’s riot. Scary times. Did not believe I would live to see another nor my children or Grands!! Lord have mercy upon us! Freedom is not FREE!

  78. irini112014 says:

    Beautifully written! Thank you for your honesty and openness.

  79. sharperimaz says:

    Thanks for the introspection… it beg’s this quote from JFK “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
    Change will come…

  80. Adama B says:

    As a black person sometimes i attempt to turn a blind eye to what it means to be black in america. As I sit in a masters program the only black, i find myself questioning why dont they see that im just as good?
    This article reached into my soul, and has me questioning my true intentions of a look good they is over shadowed by my skin color.
    Michael this was deep, and well written, and thank you for the time and thought you put into this.

  81. alienindirtyromania says:

    I can only remember John Lee Hooker singing:
    “If you’re white is all right
    If you’re brown just stick around
    But if you’re black,
    Oh brother,
    Get back,get back,get back!”

  82. Alisa Boyd says:

    You must keep writing! Your voice is a deep and powerful one. It tells stories many whites don’t want to hear, but need to hear. Each time you write (and this goes for your food pieces, too), people must confront a truth about privilege in America. Your work is important!

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  84. jethag says:

    This is one of the best commentaries on race in America I’ve ever read. And kami scott (above) said it well: “I don’t know you but I love you! You got it right!!!”

  85. Pingback: Ferguson: Ten Bloggers Speak Out — Blog — WordPress.com

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  89. Well said. The world needs to know.

  90. Nothing lasts forever.

  91. I appreciate all the thoughts expressed here. I feel, as certain others do, that that nothing, no kind of thoughtfulness, can take the place of united ACTION — by all dispossessed and half-dispossessed citizens of the country. I feel we must take the country back from the filthy-rich power elite that owns everything — the government, the police, the whole economy. Racism is a brutal, horrific symptom of a lost and increasingly poor people turning on each other in their — or let us say our — distress at being powerless. I hope it will be peaceful but I do want to see action in the streets that will grow and grow and will not stand down or be bought off. I’ve been on a lot of marches — I believe in them. Talking is one thing, to act is another. The Ferguson protests are showing the way. We must organize ourselves to grow a mass movement to change things.

  92. Very powerful, thank you for sharing your personal story. While I’m not AA, I am of mixed ethnic origins and have been terrorized by southern police. All may feel free to read my blog, I’m new [midnightangel01] & what happened to Michael Brown is just another horrific tragedy in this country. I keep saying America is headed for a huge implosion if we don’t vote out these right-wingnuts! I wish we had a gov’t full of Bernie Sanders’.

    • Yes, my Angel friend. Bernie Sanders! If only there were ten of him! In a poor country people turn on each other, and perhaps the most important thing we must do is to somehow reach those who should be on our side but do not understand their own dispossession. They want to blame the “other” for their lower and lower status in the world of draculean capitalism. The racist oligarchy that rules us must somehow be defeated. This elite LOVES to see us fight each other. Vote, Organize, March, as Mr. Twitty says. It is my belief that mass action is all that will save us.

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  95. giannasmith says:

    such a beautifully written and moving post.

  96. Povonte says:

    Interesting story and a great read.

  97. Reblogged this on The Joys Of Home and commented:
    I noticed, to my utter disappointment, that not many of my friends talk about this case. Although, this is just the kind of thing I see them talking about when the person is Jewish. For days now, I have been trying to understand what makes this injustice different from the others. 1. the boy was not Jewish. 2. He was black. 3. he was said to have been a thug. 4. Will, I will leave that one in my head. A blogger I follow name Michael W. Twitty (we both have a love for food). put in words I don’t think I could have expressed. This all came about due to a picture being post of him in the street dead with food around him. I wonder if the person who took so much time to Photoshop the picture ever thought about the fact that a life was gone from the world. No matter what you think about the case in Ferguson, Missouri, the fact still remains true. It is still OK to kill the African………..

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  100. mozela9 says:

    Good post re ferguson- don’t forget- there are persons this very moment carrying forward the philosophies of King- Cong. John Lewis, e.g. I think that when addressing such incidents as ferguson or right here in baltimore, we need to point to what can be done- for activists- not pundits. In Baltimore, e.g.- point to Rev. Cortly Witherspoon- point to the activities of Code Pink in DC or Eddie Conway, again in Baltimore.
    Point to the need for more gun control- the every day happenings at Red Emmas in Baltimore.
    Best, poet/activist- dave eberhardt

  101. Pingback: When the Spice is “Race”: The Case of the “Racist” Pizza | Afroculinaria

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