Ferguson: Ten Bloggers Speak Out
In the days since Michael Brown’s shooting, bloggers have taken to their sites to share their thoughts on race, violence, media, and more.
Many details about the violent death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, remain unclear. What is beyond doubt is the intensity of reactions to this story — in the media and in neighborhoods all over the US (and beyond). Here are ten personal perspectives on this event and its aftermath, from writers representing a diverse cross-section of the WordPress.com community.
Writer and scholar Keguro Macharia reacts with his usual incisiveness to one of the signature chants of post-Ferguson protests :
If “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” is an expression of “humanity,” as one tweet has it, we must ask for whom that humanity is available. In fact, the insistent repetition of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” by black bodies across the U.S. might offer a less promising narrative: it might suggest the banality with which black life forms can never gain access to the vernaculars of the human.
Many commentators on the violence in Ferguson have focused on the dangers of using a militarized police force to contain civilian protests. But how militarized is law enforcement in Ferguson? In a comprehensive, illustrated piece in The Nation, Lyle Jeremy Rubin, a political blogger and former Marine, guides the uninitiated through what he calls “the arsenal of racial oppression.”
Michael W. Twitty usually blogs about food cultures — especially those of African American communities. The events in Ferguson have prompted him to write a moving personal piece, “#Ferguson: My Thoughts on an American Flashpoint,” where he recounts his own experiences of discrimination and racial profiling.
A blog by an anonymous police officer currently on duty in Ferguson, Dissonant Winston Smith reports on the challenges of wearing the very uniform that has come to represent violence and discrimination to many in that community. He writes, for example, on being the object of media scrutiny:
If police try to clear the media out before using gas they’re accused of trying to suppress the media’s freedom of the press. If police let them stay, they’re gassing the media which is apparently also evidence of media suppression.
Writing from the other side of the police/press divide is journalist and media expert Dan Gillmor. He has recently published a piece in The Guardian about the power of citizen-journalists, in Ferguson and beyond, to expose inaccuracies (and, at times, outright lies) in official narratives by law enforcement agencies.
One of the biggest stories coming out of Missouri is the central role of social media — especially Twitter — in keeping the world informed of the violent clashes between protesters and police. In “The Digital Mosaic Public: Twitter and Ferguson,” blogger Brett Ommen takes a more skeptical position, pointing to the limitations of social media in bringing about change on the ground.
Atlanta-based sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom offers a more affirmative angle on grassroots media and their potential to empower members of marginalized communities:
Digital media appealed to blackfolks for the same reasons that any innovation appeals to us. It is a chance to up-end legacy structures and institutions that have shut us out. We are early adopters not to be cool but to survive.
Language and the way it can camouflage bigotry — both conscious and not — is a topic that blogger beccyjoy addresses head on:
By saying, “you do not have all of the facts” we are essentially saying “I don’t believe that you are smart enough to know what is happening right in front of your face.”
By saying, “this isn’t a race issue” we are saying “I know more than black people about what it feels like to be black.”
How do notions of complicity and privilege play into tragedies like the one unfolding in Ferguson? In her provocatively-titled post, “I am racist, and so are you,” writer Rachel Shadoan offers a panoramic view of the history of institutional racism in the US, and tries to find ways for individuals to help dismantle its heritage.
The violence in Missouri caps a summer full of bad news, from the Middle East to Ukraine and beyond. Feeling deflated and powerless, writer Bree Ervin has consciously decided to disconnect from events over which she has little influence.
In a thoughtful piece, “Retreating toward Happiness,” Bree explains that her decision doesn’t mean she no longer cares, but rather that her energy is better spent within her local sphere:
I know it seems like the world is burning, and some of us are in places where we can help put those fires out, but for the rest of us, maybe the best thing we can do is stop adding fuel to the fires, maybe the best thing we can do is practice peace.
We wish you all a safe, sane weekend — and if you have another story related to Ferguson you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment.
Our militaristic police society has targeted many individuals undeserving of death. Google the events of Waco, Texas, when Clinton was President, when a mass killing of a religious sect was carried out, ordered by Janet Reno. Numerous men, women, and children were killed in that compound. Check out Randy Weaver from North Idaho during that same time period. His wife and son were killed by officers during a standoff that was politically motivated. What surprises me most is how the media picked up the story in Ferguson, and went with emotion rather than facts in this case. True reporting needs to be honest, and done tactfully with the facts prevailing. No one is safe from prejudice. In this case the facts are that the officer felt threatened. He was badly beaten. The officer did what he thought he needed to at the time, which wasn’t the case with Waco or Weaver. Those events had plenty of premeditation, and still, many innocent lives were killed by authorities.
As well, social media has been essential in bringing forward the video tape of the robbery, alternative eye witness reports and news of Brown’s attack on the police officer and the injuries resulting from that attack. Only with the help of bloggers and tweeters has balance been restored and the racialist narrative held up to scrutiny.
Sitting in Canada I have been astonished at the awful mainstream media coverage of Ferguson and have had to rely on blogs for actual information.
I touched on this a bit as well: http://sweetlittlesomethingsnet.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/it-does-exist/
I think one of my deepest concerns about what is going on down in Ferguson, MO is that a great deal, if not almost all, of the violence is being either perpetrated or egged on by outsiders, people who have no business being there except to loot, plunder and wreak havoc on a town that is more than capable of handling this crisis on it’s own. What we have here is a crowd of outside misfits, folk whose primary goal it is to cause riots — rioting for profit. And although the initial incident certainly needs investigation, it does not merit the interference of outside interests which have nothing to do with either the police of Ferguson, nor the alleged racial injustice some would place on the incident. Instead, outsiders, bent on their own personal agendas, are flocking to this community to take advantage of a difficult situation, thus clouding the reasonable and lawful investigation, almost insuring that no truth will be able to surface any longer. What rioting, looting, violence, burning and tearing apart local business has to do with finding truth, I do not know. But, it appears everyone has flocked to this party, hell bent on causing destruction, to the detriment of justice.
Awesome! I wrote about this on my blog crimestation.wordpress.com about twice. As a fellow law enforcement officer I don’t support my own if they are out here gunning down people, of any color, without just cause. Especially when you shoot someone six times, unless they are on PCP, which from personal experience can be a life and death struggle. A black man was shot in College Park, Maryland several months ago, when I was a cop there, about 19 times after he stole a county police cruiser and brandished a gun at uniform and plainclothes detectives. That wasn’t reported that much, but being in that part of the state and country, shootings like that is not uncommon. Place like Ferguson, Missouri is probably where gun violence is not that common and crime is very less than what I am used too, probably. A place where a black man, or anyone, is shot armed or unarmed, in a less crime ridden community, will cause more media attention. Either way this issue needs to be solved and investigated very thoroughly. From what it looks like the police officer might get indicted. We shall see!
As an African American I’m saddened disappointed an upset, but in the same breath I understand that there are a lot of underlying issues not being spoken about in the black community. Black on black violence has become customary. It is featured on the news but does not get the support or reaction as events like Michael Brown’s murder. No one is without flaws, but no one an I mean no one deserves to be shot down in the street. It’s inhumane. I believe that as a result of the studies, statistics, and stereotypes, the police, those of Caucasian descent have a skewed view of African American men in America. Outside of race, police brutality from an officer of any race needs to be brought to a screeching halt. It is clearly an abuse of power. Maybe the psych evaluations upon graduating from police academies should be placed on more scrutiny.
In a society that holds a “stand your ground” right to shoot philosophy the Michael Brown incident will soon be forgotten. The “wild west” beliefs of a majority of Americans guarantees everyone will soon be carrying a sidearm. Peace loving citizens will be migrating to other nations.
In deference to all opinions, biased or non we as an nation are at a crossroad. We can no longer ignore the precepts of human decency .
Abbie Hoffman pen’s “Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit.”
Great compilation! Sure wish my post was included:
To Go or Not to Go: A Weekend trip to Ferguson…
Glad so many in this blog community are talking about this.
I’m a wordpress blogger and also wrote about Ferguson and media color bias last week if folks are interested:
And this after the awful awful George Zimmerman verdict:
Ben, would love to have had a mother’s perspective (see Shespeaksencouragement.wordpress.com) included in your Ferguson: Ten Bloggers Speak Out.
Thank you for posting these! We must remain vigilant. Another post you might be interested in http://songwritingatlanta.com/2014/08/22/i-dont-wanna-feela-song-for-trayvon-mike-brown-and-countless-others/
More people are becoming aware of what is happening about Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.. However what is really happening in Ferguson is that the killing of Black people is being undermined by bringing up past events as if to say this isn’t so bad. It’s time to look at thing (past and present) as it is. Don’t let what you don’t know but have heard persuade you. Tragic events that occur are all so sade when they come from a sources that dictate events as untruth, half truth and outright lies. I can’t leave without saying that we all have choices and the choice you take in dealing with things is your choice. Don’t condemn others for the choices they are forced to make for themselves.
I lived in St. Louis county off-and-on over about 10 years, and have a different take on it here:
Lots of comments about the incident itself, etc. I do not plan on adding to it with my opinion of the incident. Rather, I would like to see all bloggers who made a comment, and anyone else who happens to read this change their focus taking a long, hard look at how the media, public officials and others used this incident for personal or political gain. Whatever happened to “due process” along the way? Personally I think that the reporting by the media was totally out of hand without any thought process on their part before any real facts known. My first blogging post, What the Hell, reflected exactly what I think: http://johntscorner.com/
As a white female American, I am completely disgusted by this situation. How many lives do we have to lose at the hands of these self righteous police officers? So many innocent children, people have been murdered at the hands of the law or someone who thinks they are the law. My heart goes out to these families. Never give up!!
Two quick thoughts:
A. The media coverage of the unfortunate shooting in Ferguson blurred into other world events and put seemingly unrelated situations in both stark contrast and close quarters. We are seeing a lot of suffering.
B. One thing worth mentioning is the proximity of Ferguson to the historical part of Missouri known as ‘Little Dixie.’ P.S. Yes I am an ‘outsider’ but because I spent the first ten years of my life in Missouri I’ve always had an interest in the history of the state and region.
I’ve dealt with point A. (above) in my http://www.poemimage.wordpress.com blog post today (August 23) via digital art and poetry.
In my generation it was the massacre at Kent State. The students had flowers and they were shot. In this case the rumors have become the facts and the media the accuser. We need to move back and figure out the facts. The problem is someone is dead and only one person had a gun. The odds are mixed with the prejudice that has been in America for its duration.
I think this event goes further beyond this specific incident. It demonstrates that the police must change their mind-set when interacting with the public. The media just reported that a previous incident with the Ferguson police involved charging a suspect for property damage because he bled on their uniforms. There is no doubt that this person committed a crime, every race has criminals, but charging someone with property damage for bleeding on police uniforms after getting his ass kicked by police gives us insight into the legal system in this city.
I really enjoyed reading this selection and will return for more.
As the mother of a law enforcement officer, it’s important to mention that what happened in Ferguson is rare. Most police officers operate with integrity and spend most of their time protecting everyday citizens. When my son is on duty and there are no calls, he is out on patrol, keeping an eye on everything. And he prevents a lot of crime before it ever takes place. There are also very strict policies as to when an officer can use a gun.
2012 stats: 12 million arrests, 400 police shootings in that year, most justifiable. Thus, in 99.9% of all arrests the perpetrator was not killed by police.
As to this particular officer, the media did him severe injustice by declaring him guilty before any facts or evidence was presented. Every citizen is entitled to presumption of innocence. Justice may take some time, but justice will come.
What kind of nation do we become when we let emotions and media hype trump the laws of our land? Let the law and justice be carried out the way we’ve always done it.
Do we want to start a protest that demonizes the police? If so, who do we then expect to arrive when we call 911?
This is madness and it has got to stop. You can’t go around taking away someone’s life because you suspect they MAY have done something wrong. These officers need to be taught to shoot to disable, not shoot to kill and then leave it to the courts to determine further. People are not throw-a ways, we are thinking, living, creative spirits living inside our bodies. Life is too precious of a gift to be wasted. STOP THE MADNESS.
It’s ironic when i was growing up watching Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham that it was fictitious and funny. But in reality we are in Sherwood forrest with the Sheriff Nottingham taxing and pillaging as he pleases with consent from the King. Now to complete the story we need Robin Hood.
It’s good reading about this, I was scared that this issue would just die down as everything else in the media, so I’m happy that you help reminding everyone of this important matter. Thank you, people!
And I can really only hope that things will change sometime, for good. But sadly, that hope is not likely to become reality. What a pathetic world we live in.
This problem has to be viewed from Gross-roots level. Here and there, the clash is on between the two groups. Who is right is not the question, but we need to find what’s the root cause. Shooting at 6 spots so accurately (double shot on the head) reveals the act has been carried out with sufficient preparation to finish him — it seems it was not an accidental death caused by incidental shooting! If it was to stop him or arrest him one shot would have been sufficient!
Such killings are to condemned by the Government as well as by the public. More than the Law, love can protect the society. Unless people change their attitude, thousands of Martin Luther kings will be dishonoured like this. Man has to pay heed to the voice of his own conscience rather than the outraged voice of the public.Let God comfort his family;let Give peace to America.