Happy Holidays everyone! I hope your turkeys and holiday shrubs bring merriment and holiday cheer. Also, when you get a break from buying/gifting/receiving things and appeasing the capitalist gods this season, you might find yourself talking with friends and family about the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Personally, I am not yet aware of a best practice for this conversation. I am, however, aware of some worst practices. The following are a few.
You know that headless techno-beast comprised of weird white dudes in masks spending inordinate amounts of time on the web that we call Anonymous? Feel free to discuss them all you wish, but know that this certainly does not add to the needed conversation about race in America nor does it count towards you actually discussing issues in Ferguson. Rest assured, if you are sitting behind a $1000+ rig with unfettered access to the internet and your favorite snack food, you probably have very little in common with the folks protesting in north St. Louis. Also note, that as fun as it is to ‘rage’ against the machine, and break shit online, it will NEVER be more constructive or helpful than creating safe and inclusive spaces online. Leave your ddos and cross-scripting code at home please.
Calling Ferguson solely a racial event is like calling a jellyfish an object. Its true, but not a very helpful nor definitive descriptor. The more important question is what do we know about this jellyfish? Will this jellyfish lead us to change? Why am I talking about this jellyfish still? Is it because talking about jellyfish is a much more comfortable conversation to have with myself than the one about race in America? Probably. If, like me, you’ve lived your American life on the Default setting(i.e. ‘white’), you may not feel qualified to talk about this subject authoritatively. You may just want everyone hug it out, to have some national Gilmore Girls watch-a-thon that where we can all feel witty and relationshippy. This probably won’t happen. We probably won’t hug it out. And I probably won’t be able to tell you what it’s like to be black in America. Just know that you cannot separate this issue from the serious poverty in North St. Louis. You cannot separate it the colossal failure that the Normandy School District has been in the past year or so(Ferguson area). You cannot separate it from the nature and structure of the police forces around this country, and the consequences of privatizing our prison system. And you can’t separate it from Jellyfish. Because like the jellyfish, we will all one day be translucent, raceless objects. Until that day, don’t generalize.
Ummm…this one I’m a bit iffy on, but be careful in this territory. Its fun to talk about controversial things where you feel safe. It may be more enlightening to venture into a new critical lens.
If you, yourself, are black
Congratulations! You may be the Monitor’s first reader of color!
Just playin’. These are both acceptable frameworks for discussing Ferguson.