My condolences to the family of Michael Brown. Who knew your son would join other fallen spiritual warriors in unifying Black people, an entire community and bringing light to an everyday injustice many of us have become so use to we look through it as if not there. There are unknown earthly circumstances resulting in the loss of a man-child we will all struggle in accepting. I often rest at ease, when understanding fails me, in the Biblical scripture: “Thy Will be Done”. Michael Brown fulfilled his prophetic destiny and while we mourn his leaving, his mark is made.
In this moment I feel a sense of shame. Shame because the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death is a result of my and every other Black man over the age of 40’s failure. My generation of Black men have failed our boy’s, our families, and our community. We, Black men, didn’t set out to do this. This failure wasn’t a part of some elaborate plan. This failure is the by-product of a self-centered, egotistical arrogance in which those Black men who have made it create comfortable distance to maintain their status and those struggling clench tightly to their self-imposed victimization which halts their own progress in life.
I sit back disgusted in the rioting and looting of a community. I offered my understanding at the rage of young people erupting. I even took the sanctimonious perspective shaking my head at the events I still don’t believe will result in anything besides more reason to fear Black men. And fear Black men we do.
We live in a society that lives and is willing to die to maintain their Constitutional Right to bear arms. Some states have passed legislation allowing its citizen’s to openly carry firearms in the open as well as concealed. There are counties that make owning a firearm a requirement of residency. Within our collective unconscious we have fostered a society that facilitates a need to live in fear and as a result the need to protect ourselves against any known or unknown threat. (SIDE-BAR: who shoots through an unopened door because someone knocks at a time deemed dangerous?)
As all this relates to Michael Brown and the on-going turmoil in Ferguson, MI. These young people are angry. These young people are in the midst of a full-on rage. Many have cited without the rioting and looting the Michael Brown killing would have been swept under a rug. A police officer action deemed a justifiable result of Michael Brown’s chosen volition of thug. There is no space or desire to delve into the code-word “thug” being used to mask the incivility of the word “nigger” (with or without the “a”.
My shame, our failure as Black men, is in these young folks having no faith in their older generation’s of Black men having their backs. The statement being made is “we have never trusted white people, with or without a badge, and we have no reason to trust the elders in our communities”. Those Black police officers are just another shade of “blue”. Those nationally known civil rights leaders have become fat-cats disconnected from the movement of eradicating injustice, unless it leads to a nationally syndicated radio or TV show. These raging young adults have even lost faith in the leaders of the Faith-community seeing them as mega-millionaires of their mega-churches and living mega-lives very distant from the masses struggling to make rent, stave off foreclosure and clinging white knuckled tight to the hope of a job that will cover the minimum balances of the monthly bills.
Many of those rioting and looting are young Black men who have never known the safety and security of a Black father. So they set out to fend for themselves by any means necessary. They bring light to a growing deeper issue that wells within their spirits: an absent father who established no valued at the start of their lives. With nothing but struggle to live for dying doesn’t seem so bad.
Many of these rioters and looters are unable to fathom the feelings of a father who will not allow any harm to come to them and if harm does happen along the way, the security of a father who will not rest until justice is done. For many of these enraged young adults struggle, pain and abandonment are their legacies, rage their voice. These nameless and faceless rioters and looters are enraged at a society that has pulled back the curtain on their deepest insecurities: we don’t matter and dammit we’re mad as hell about it.
I myself, every Black man over the age of 40, every church leader, and community activist should hang our collective heads in shame. We have failed this entire generation. We have robbed them of the feeling they matter, they count, and we will never leave them unprotected. We failed them. They have no reason to believe we value them. Young Black men would be foolish to think we could step up and shift our thinking to include their safety and security. Hell many of us, Black men, fear our own young adults as well as if we weren’t them ourselves back in the day.
Consider this: Every state should maintain on its payroll an independent team of inspectors who’s job it is to monitor every police act of aggression, violence and shootings. Every major city should maintain on its payroll an independent team of inspectors to oversee any police acts of aggression, violence and shootings. Church leaders, aldermen and women, community activist elected and paid by collected taxes will cover the smaller neighborhoods and outlying counties.
Very important we, Black men, have to begin SHOWING these young adults we will not compromise their safety and security for our own comfort, we, Black men, will not rest until justice prevails. More importantly we, Black fathers, will maintain our connections and for others reconnect to our children, young and old, putting our own bullshit to the side and coveting them in a way and fashion that makes others think twice, three times, before assaulting them in any manner.