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Thinking about Ferguson

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Often the news cycles are updated so quickly in America, I am challenged to follow major new stories without incurring some large gaps of information. So I must begin with a disclaimer on the following blog post that I have not read every news article or watched any online media videos about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. I was a Kansas City resident for over a decade. While Ferguson is a small town on the other side of the state by St. Louis, the news story about Michael Brown‘s death and the subsequent riots still hits pretty close to home for me. I am so deeply saddened by the images of mass riots, protesting with violence, damaging of property, and the raw emotions of anger and sorrow that are currently colliding with one another within Ferguson.

 

I have family members in law enforcement, including my own brother, so I am empathetic to the plight of these officers and their families as they endure some terrible, public scrutiny. I have grown up with nothing but respect and admiration for law enforcement officers and their selfless oath to keep communities safe and secure even during the most harrowing circumstances. Every day these officers put their own personal safety on the line and have to make split second decisions based on their experience, intuition, and very little actual information. They are the front-line personnel for our protection.

 

But it is true that the death of Michael in Ferguson is every parent’s worst nightmare. And as the mother of a young African American male, I have to admit to feeling more hyper-sensitive of the danger of Antwain walking city streets in America. And I have to be honest that here in Uganda, I feel that Antwain has a reprieve. I am not nearly as fearful as I was in Kansas City, where senseless violence dominates the streets of the urban core and another set of rules for resolving conflicts exists. Antwain’s birth family still resides in the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri, so we have first-hand experiences about the tragedy that can befall someone ‘in the wrong place, at the wrong time.’ As best as I can without being disrespectful, I have had to inform Antwain about some of those rules, just to keep him safe and aware whenever he has the opportunity to visit his family. But I always breathe easier when he is back in my care.

 

Again I must assert my ignorance in the hard facts of the case. Perhaps I should be more responsible by knowing each involved party’s background, personality, interests/hobbies, and testimonials from their family members and neighbors. But it does not change the essential facts. A young man has died. A police officer will be shadowed by this incident for rest of his life. A community is truly hurting and acting out their sorrows.

 

My daily prayer has been that more incidents of validation and resolution occur within this community, instead of stirring up tensions for good media coverage. I also lift up the families and loved ones of both victim and officer, as their lives are forever altered. And I gave my Antwain an additional hug, which as a teenager he was a bit off-put by, but I have taken some extra special comfort to have him back home safe and sound for this school holiday.

 

Categories: Life in America