Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Listening to #Ferguson

I had yesterday's post set to go before the Ferguson grand jury announcement...I wish I hadn't. Today it feels wrong to talk about anything else. Today I need to keep silent and listen. Below is a sampling of what I've been listening to.

This link-dump may overwhelm you. We *should* feel overwhelmed by injustice; we should mourn with those who mourn. We *make* time for things that matter to us. Please, will you take some time to listen? Will you open your heart to care? Will you dare to hear perspectives on this besides Fox News or Matt Walsh? Any one of these links would be worth your while to consider. Maybe you could skim through the quotes below and choose even a couple of articles to ponder. Maybe you could realize your privilege means you get to choose whether to care about Ferguson and racism and police killings. 

"White evangelicals must listen because there is a context to this tragedy, we must listen to feel the pain behind the problem and finally we listen so that we might acknowledge that injustice really exists.
"...Rioting is wrong and stupid—but so is using rioters as an excuse to ignore the hurts of so many. For many, this is about an incident. Yet, for many African Americans, it's about a system. It's worth listening to why people are responding differently to the situation in Ferguson."

The Ferguson Grand Jury Has Given Us Our Marching Orders
"We saw an American prosecutor fail the principle of 'blind justice' by handling court procedure in a way most legal experts found a dereliction of duty. Over and over again we heard that the grand jury bar for an indictment is so low all it takes is a ham sandwich. Prosecutors who want to prosecute don’t 'present all the evidence;' apparently, they present only that evidence that gets them the indictment and commences the trial. If that’s true, and I have to trust the majority opinion of legal experts since I’m not one, then Ferguson’s prosecutor failed to even live up to the low-bar ideals of his profession, much less America.

"...a grand jury indictment depends largely on the recommendation of the prosecutor. If he/she wants an indictment, they tend to get one. They present the parts of the evidence that lead to the conclusion. In this case, a prosecutor with a history of close affiliation with police officers and no record for ever bringing an indictment, 'rigged the system,' according to one analyst, to get the result he wanted. He took the unprecedented steps of giving the grand jury 'all the evidence' and allowing the accused to testify to the grand jury for hours instead of leading a prosecutorial effort with integrity.

"Here’s how I wish the President had ended his comments and what I pray the remaining movement in Ferguson, New York, LA and other  parts of the country would commit itself to.
  • Forming a National Commission for Reviewing the Use of Deadly Force by Police Authorities
  • Federal Requirement and Funding of Police Body Cameras
  • Creation of a Mechanism for Appointing Prosecutors
  • The Demilitarization of Local Police Departments"

Most White People in America are Completely Oblivious
"I think this, more than anything, is the source of our trouble when it comes to racial division in this country. The inability of white people to hear black reality—to not even know that there is one and that it differs from our own—makes it nearly impossible to move forward. But how can we expect black folks to trust law enforcement or to view it in the same heroic and selfless terms that so many of us apparently do? The law has been a weapon used against black bodies, not a shield intended to defend them, and for a very long time."

Race and Policing in America
"Generally, people of color have an understanding of white perspectives because they live in and among the dominant culture. But most whites have no significant relationships with people of color. An August study by Robert Jones of Public Religion Research Institute notes that 75 percent of whites in the United States have no friends who are people of color. Three-quarters of whites never discussed racialized policing with those most directly affected by it. Ignorance is breeding more ignorance.

"...the New York City Police Department made more than 5 million stop-and-frisk stops from 2002 to mid-2013. African-Americans and Latinos accounted for more than 80 percent of them. In 88 percent of the stops, no arrests were made nor was there evidence of a crime."

Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up
"...the rate of police killings of black Americans is nearly the same as the rate of lynchings in the early decades of the 20th century. About twice a week, or every three or four days, an African American has been killed by a white police officer in the seven years ending in 2012...That number is incomplete and likely an undercount... Even though white Americans outnumber black Americans fivefold, black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed when they encounter the police in the US, and black teenagers are far likelier to be killed by police than white teenagers."

#Ferguson: A Gospel Issue
"What I’ve seen is that in my privileged white world, the ‘Gospel’ is domesticated.  Ferguson is not on our radar.  I’d dare say for many white evangelicals, today is just another day.  The real scandal would be if some prominent evangelical wrote a pro-LGBTQ book, for instance.  The Gospel is tamed, reduced, narrowed.  It becomes a balm for guilt-ridden souls who crave 140-character tweets reminding us that we’re accepted, but it hardly seems applicable to what is happening in Ferguson. And, after all, isn’t what is happening there really just about some angry black folks who’ve, once again, made a much bigger deal out of something that clearly was the result of a young black man’s aggression against a police officer?

"We don’t get it, friends.  And we can’t, and won’t, until we walk a hundred miles in the shoes of someone very different than us or until our friendships reflect the diversity of society.  Statistics show, in fact, that we have the least diverse social network – 91% white, and only one-percent black.  We naively think that changes in voting rights some forty years ago solved the problem of race.  And as Christians, we become incensed at a Facebook dialogue about abortion or homosexuality, but hardly understand the fury of young black men and women in the streets last night who feel so powerless that throwing stones and burning things provide some outlet, albeit a tragic one, for a voice.

"...Far more hinges on how we meet one another from here on out than on an indictment in Ferguson, MO.  Until my white (mostly evangelical) brothers and sisters are as impassioned by this as they are the next Rob Bell book, I don’t see much changing.  And when I say that, I’m not saying that you need to get behind an indictment but get behind your black brothers and sisters, to get into their worlds, their realities, their sufferings.  I’m saying we need to ask questions, to listen, to exercise holy curiosity.  I’m saying that we might have blindspots, might not see so clearly."

A Prayer for Ferguson
"Forgive us for not weeping with those who weep. Forgive us for judging others with a measure we do not use to judge ourselves. Forgive us for speaking when we should be silent and being silent when we should speak. Forgive us for being hard-hearted and dim-witted. Forgive us for loving our comfort more than our neighbor. Forgive us for being too often indifferent to injustice in our world and unrighteousness in our lives."

"We all love to think we would have marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We all get misty eyed at the 'I Have a Dream' speech. If you get all inspired by Rosa Parks, Dr. King and Diane Nash, but are repulsed by what’s happening in Ferguson and cities all around the U.S. (LA, NYC, Chicago, Seattle and more are already marching tonight), realize you would have had the same feelings in the 60s. It’s easy to look back and see the pictures of the CRM & think it was a bunch of one day marches and then we passed some laws, everyone was equal!
But it looked like TONIGHT. It felt like tonight. It was scary and exhausting and long. It started over a kid who was “no angel”. It was at least 14 years long."

Violence of Whiteness
"How do we even summarize the damage the criminal justice system has done to black communities over the course of American history? It is white supremacy that has found ever creative ways to shut out and shut down black folks from being considered fully American, fully human. It is white supremacy that has been historically violent.

"It was not blacks who enslaved millions of people for financial gain. It was not blacks who lynched thousands of people for entertainment. It was not blacks who regularly invaded the neighborhoods of other communities to wreak havoc. It was not blacks who created laws to disenfranchise others. These are the violent inventions of white supremacy.

"And this is why we sit in anticipation of every decision that involves unarmed, dead, black bodies. This is why we sit on the edges of our seats and wonder whether or not America will acknowledge our humanity this time. This is why we anxiously watch Ferguson."

And some Tweets:


Danielle said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Amy. I seriously have felt in turmoil and not known what to think or what opinion to form. You're right, today is a day for listening.

Laura Sparks said...

Haven't made it through all of the articles yet, but the one about white Americans being oblivious? Yeah, I wanted to copy and paste almost every paragraph as a status update. Thank you for sharing all of this.

Tina Leigh said...

Everyone has a story, a side. Im just tired of everyone pointing fingers and no one accepting responsibility for their own actions. I'm sick of clear right and wrong being twisted. May God continue to give us mercy and grace until we can lift the scales from our eyes!