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When Will We Value Black Life?

On August 9th Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. According to private autopsy reports, he was shot four times in the right arm and twice in his head. We are still uncertain what happened that day as reports vary. The police say Mike Brown assaulted Wilson and reached for his gun as they struggled in his police car. A shot was fired in the vehicle before Wilson was able to get a hold of his firearm and shoot Brown. Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown’s, was there and a says the officer approached them aggressively and attacking Brown before shooting him. He said after being shot in the back several times Brown turned around putting his hands up and yelling “I don’t have a gun! Stop shooting!” He was then shot several more times. Other reports suggest truths in parts of these stories. What seems to be the constant is Mike turning around to face Wilson and still being shot. Regardless, a young black life has been lost and its unfortunate this continues to happen. It’s hard for me to sound sympathetic because I’ve become desensitized to this news. Whether black life is being lost in Chicago, Ferguson or West Africa the loss of black life has become commonplace within our reality.

In the aftermath of Mike’s death, the residents of Ferguson have been protesting against the local police. Things were initially peaceful but turned violent in subsequent days. The police came to face the unarmed people with rifles, tanks, riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets. They turned the small town into a war zone and weakened the almost non-existent trust between the black community and police. Looting has been reported, journalists have been arrested and curfews have been declared as the police try and gain control in this predominately black neighborhood. The people of Ferguson, and other areas protesting are demanding “justice” and the equal value of black life. It’s unfortunate that this tragedy will not result in that equal value. Like the passing of brother Trayvon Matin, Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis, or Eric Garner, just weeks prior, the death of Michael Brown will not change the perception of black life in this society we exist in. Why should any other group value black life if  we don’t?

We’ve been called mischievous and evil since we were kidnapped and brought to the Americas. After hearing it for hundreds of years, we began to believe it. Propaganda, like Birth Of A Nation, was created to spread this image of evil and violent black men. Television and movies we watch today continue that stereotype. Why do white men fear us? Were they so scared of Emmett Til that he had to be tortured beyond recognition? Was Oscar Grant such a threat that he had to be shot while detained? Or did Trayvon look that suspicious that he had to be followed? Did we scare white people into enslaving us? I’m aware that these situations differ, but the end results are the same.

Despite individual achievements the black community is still suffering economically, politically and culturally. We have to look around and ask why this isn’t happening to other groups to this degree. When other groups came to this country and were persecuted and discriminated against they worked together and created that economic base their community needed to thrive. The Italians, Jew and Chinese were all seen as “other” when they came to this country. They stuck together and created safe and nurturing environments for themselves. Those tight-knit communities kept their children safe and their economy flourishing. Black people attempted to do this after the Civil War with Black Wallstreet, but that was destroyed. The death of Mick Brown and countless other black people here prove we have to work as a group with a common goal and course of action.The police should fear altercations with our children, not because of violence, but because we value our children so much other groups know that worth. The world will only value us when we value ourselves and show that value to the world.

Peace To Michael Brown

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