I have so many thoughts about Ferguson but I’m not sure I can, or should, be giving voice to some of them right now because it feels more like a time to listen. We should all listen. Listen to mothers. Listen, especially, to mothers of color. Find out how America looks to them and see if that jibes with your vision of America. You’ll probably find your visions are different. Neither is wrong. The question is, how to reconcile them.
As for what the grand jury decided and the apologetics for this cop making a lethal choice in the face of what he perceived as an imminent threat, there is a micro and a macro. The micro is this: if a cop is unable to engage with a person of a certain size without resorting to deadly force, that person may not be physically qualified to be a cop. Cops don’t get to pick and choose who they engage based on size. They have to be prepared to deal with anyone, preferably without killing them. And a cop’s job is to neutralize a threat to the community. Michael Brown, during this altercation, was not a threat to anyone but Darren Wilson. They were engaged in a one-on-one altercation. It would not, therefore, have been unreasonable to Wilson to drive the car that he was seated in away from Brown and await back-up while watching Brown to ensure he didn’t turn on anyone else. Maybe that’s not protocol and he isn’t allowed to do that, but it wouldn’t have been unreasonable.
The macro is this: this incident is part of a long-standing national pattern of behavior between those in power and those without power. You can say it’s not about race but since the power structure in the United States does now and always has favors white men above literally everyone else, you’re deceiving yourself. Darren Wilson shot a person of socially lesser status because that person retaliated instead of following orders. Darren Wilson shot an insubordinate. Darren Wilson was given official license to do such things yesterday, as were other powerful people all across the country. The grand jury didn’t just excuse the actions of Darren Wilson, it re-codified the existing power structure wherein the actions of white men are given special consideration. Yes, it’s about race. Not just that black boys are treated poorly but that white men are treated better than the rest of us.