Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hashtag Furgeson

I asked for a blog post prompt. I was really hoping to get a hilarious prompt and I got Ferguson. So, not the cotton candy piece I was angling for.  That's okay too. I'm not going to research. Or even look up anything I don't already know. I've followed the story to a very limited extent. But, I know the basics of the inciting incident, and the ongoing fallout.

Here's the thing. For me there's nothing special about Ferguson.
The exact measure to which I value and appreciate the police, I fear them. I don't speed when I drive. When I hop on the highway, I settle into the slow lane, set my cruise control on the exact number posted on the often disregarded "limit" signs, and soldier on to my destination without the illusion of control. Because speeding to make up for lost time isn't actually likely to get you where you need to go, any sooner than the 15 miles per hour sooner you would have had if you'd sped. Because travel isn't uniform and the little slowdowns, the tiny equalizers, traffic lights on an intersectioned part of the highway, the side-by-side semis forming a rolling roadblock balance it out, and give me enough time, it's an illusion I surrendered without much of a fight, for a lot of different reasons. The biggest reason, is that I don't know what lay behind the mirrored lenses of the aviator sunglasses which seem to come standard with the highway patrol badge.

Have you ever been pulled over for playing your music too loud?
Have you ever been pulled over for doing 67mph in a 65mph Speed Limit?
How many times have you had to exit your car and "agree" to a search of your vehicle?
Have you ever been followed around a small town by what you imagine is its only police cruiser?

OK, maybe those were a bit unfair. Let me dial it back a bit.

Do store clerks and security guards follow you around stores and public places?
Do you get asked to speak on behalf of your entire race?
Do you constantly feel like you are representing your race?
Do people in their cars, lock their doors if you walk near their cars?
Do women adjust the grip or switch sides of their purse, when you pass them on the street or share an elevator?

But, let's get back to Furgeson. It's awful. But, it's not the exception. It's the rule. When you acquit civilian citizens who kill unarmed black men, how much more emboldened would actual agents of the state become? It's a completely horrible, but totally logical progression.

Are you ready for the left turn?

This is how "Terrorists" are created. People feel victimized by the powers, and utterly helpless to change the system from the inside. And, when protests are met with a militarized police force (one representative of more and more municipalities) a violent spiral is the natural conclusion. Not the right one, the natural one.

This post is part stream-of-consciousness, and part stuff I've reflected on for a while. So, if it doesn't have a conclusion, sorry. If you think I'm wrong, tough. If you want to chat, cool. If you think I'm saying stuff that doesn't have to do with Furgeson... You're probably not black.

Anyway, I'm done for the night. I may pick this back up in a day or two when I'm not tired or distracted.
But, I wanted to rise to my friend's challenge.