Below is an unfinished piece I wrote last year after the Ferguson verdict. Only now posting it.
My grandfather was the best-worst babysitter. When I was a kid, my parents used to send me to North Carolina to spend summers with my grandparents. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are from those balmy summers of one lazy day blending into the next. Many of those days were spent with just my retired grandfather, while my grandmother went to work and my brother went to summer camp or played sports with friends. Pop-Pop and I were homebodies.
He let me sleep in late, stay in my mismatched pajamas all day, eat whatever I wanted (including a couple of bowls of ice cream), and watch shows I was too young to watch. Like ‘Cops’. (Yes, that wack ass reality show that was popular in the ’90s.) I remember him explaining to my 7-year old self that cops treat black men differently. And then he would marshal the evidence with three successive episodes, carefully pointing out how white suspects were talked to calmly and arrested with very little force while black suspects were yelled at and slammed against the ground with the force of 2 cops.
These memories of watching ‘Cops’ in my pajamas with a bowl of ice cream and my grandfather’s grizzly bear voice commentating in the background come into sharp relief today as, once again, I bear witness to the unfair treatment of black folks.
And I don’t know what to do with all this rage.
Deep down, I think I knew the events of Ferguson would unfold this way. But perhaps I had a milligram of hope that it would be different this time. It is not. It is the painfully predictable outcome in a deeply pathological pattern of oppression and brutality against black folks. And the inordinate amount of attention given to the aftermath of black rage only serves to deflect attention away from the real problem while further dehumanizing us.