Social media are powerful. Suddenly everyone’s voice carries far. My voice cannot change much, but here it is on the subject of Shaw and Ferguson.
Last night, some people vandalized 21 businesses on South Grand, my shopping area. I have been in every one of these businesses, and no doubt will continue to patronize them. Here is the link to the RFT blog that describes what took place.
We live in a country where the division between rich and poor, white and black continues to increase. Republicans love it, and most Democrats apparently do not embrace progressive beliefs enough that the public gives them their trust. If I were a poor black male living in the hood, I would have no trust in this system to give me a hand up. I get that kind of total hopelessness. I felt it back in the 1960s, when I thought I was the only gay male in my town. I couldn’t trust one person to be myself to.
Many will not agree with me, but I think this grand jury report stage and framed, in a word “whitewashed” by Bob McCulloch is a travesty of justice of monumental proportions. And it’s not just the unfair content of the judgement, perhaps he is not fully aware of just how arrogant and sanctimonious he appeared to many of us. To honest questioning reporters, he replied with a kind of half-amused smile, as if they really didn’t understand the complexities and sacrifices of police life.
The truth is that most of America thinks that this tremendous waste of human potential so obvious in the tragic fate of young black males is, well, too bad, but they could succeed if they really tried. Life is tough. Too bad. Don’t make me think about it any more.
Revolutions come when people feel so hopeless that rebelling is more important than their safety or their life. There are few completely non-violent revolutions. Do I condone the trashing of my business district? Of course not. But do I get the anger and hostility that fueled this destructive demonstration? I sure do.
Yes, those destructive protestors are responsible for the immediate destruction of this property. But I also blame arrogant and biased actions of Bob McCulloch, and the general lack of leadership in Missouri to deal with the underlying problems that recent protestors have so clearly stated: young black men are being lost every day in the name of law and order of a system that gives them little or no hope.
Anyone familiar with Missouri and St. Louis history knows of the decades of institutional racism that has created this economic and racial divide. It has been studied extensively and is well understood. I hope that we are at another point in our history where we can move closer to racial justice.
The day after the first violent protest on South Grand, when a chair was hurled through a pharmacy window, I walked down there and made a deliberate trip to that business to buy a few things in a gesture of support. Stephen and I love many of these restaurants, frequently going to Cafe Natasha, Cafe Basil and others of these damaged businesses. And we will continue to give them our business. I am so sorry that they had to bear this brunt of the failure of a broken system of justice.
But do I regret that the revolution has turned violent? Well, I regret very much that the justice system in Missouri is so imperfect that a travesty of justice can provoke such outrage. But I am not surprised.
I hope we can find a non-violent solution. But as to the revolution. It is needed. BRING IT ON. Racial and economic justice NOW.