Thursday, March 5, 2015

The DOJ Ferguson Report: WHAT NOW?

Listen, is there really anything in the report that we DIDN'T know? Anything that residents HAVE NOT been saying for years?

The Ferguson report sheds light on the specifics and details, sure, but the essence of the report -- that the Ferguson police department willfully, systematically, and deliberately targeted for abuse African Americans under the color of city and state authority -- remains consistent with what we have heard from residents, and what residents have been mischaracterized as liars, police-haters, thugs -- and worse -- for saying.

So that, we know . . .

The big question remaining is "What Now?"

And an even larger question is "How serious are we about that question?"

Because if we were truly serious about a "What Now?" we would admit and examine our high comfort level and threshold for police abuse of American residents . . . scratch that . . . our high comfort level and threshold for police abuse of residents who are African American.

If we were serious about a "What Now?" we would muster some measure of grace and offer a collective national apology not only to Ferguson African American residents but to African American residents in Baltimore, in New York, in Chicago, in Ohio, in Georgia, in California, in South Carolina, in Florida -- in America, period -- because for African Americans, virtually every place IS Ferguson.

We would offer apology for our race-based blindness and amnesia about our history and our continuing anti-Blackness, which is a very specific manifestation of our overall national problem of racism/white supremacy.  We would examine why we would rather believe self-serving character assassinations of countless African American residents across the country who complain about conditions of systemic oppression than the data and statistics that clearly detail oppressive racial disproportionalities in American systems.  We would examine the ways in which they have been victimized and humiliated by individual police and apologize for and work to rectify the systems that support and protect those police.  And we would examine our media and the ways in which they frame stories for public consumption in the most stereotypically racialized ways, true or not.  And we would examine our easy consumption and belief of those stories.

If we were serious about a "What Now?" we would be real about virulently racist citizen comments calling African Americans who had been victimized by a corrupt "justice" system everything BUT Children of God.  We wouldn't try to soft-sell their racism by calling those comments "ignorant", "unfortunate", "misguided", or by pretending that they are from a marginalized fringe.  We would call those comments what they are: mainstream.

And we would also need those "well-meaning", "color-blind", "anti-racist" citizens who, in their quest to be "fair and objective", upheld the existing anti-Black system to understand that the problem was not between individuals operating on a level playing field but with a system that supported individuals acting with power and state/city authority over individuals targeted because they were African American.  There is a huge difference.  And if we were serious about a "What Now?" moment, we would need those folk to sit down and do some serious reflection about that fact.

A "What Now?" moment would require us to deliberate about what this all says about the character of this nation.  It would require us to examine and own our role in stripping away a sense of safety that should be afforded every American resident and is not . . . is decidedly not.


If we were really, truly, honestly serious about "What Now?" we would talk about repair -- yes, economic reparations; reimbursements -- for Ferguson residents who have been victimized by years of color-coded, economic shakedowns by the criminal "justice" system.  We would be advocating for and supportive of a plan for addressing -- for making "whole" -- those citizens who, in fact, were robbed by the "justice" system.  There is undisputed documentation of that, and of the dollar amounts collected through the periods of those shake-downs.

There is no credible "What Now?" without addressing this fact.


The big question remaining is "What Now?"

And an even larger question is "How serious are we about that question?"

Moving Forward,