So when I post a blog, I do it through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Occasionally, I get a question and rather than discussing it on all the divergent social media programs, why not do it here, right?
Do you feel it was appropriate for Common (the rapper) to relate Ferguson with Selma (at the Oscars and in the Academy Award Winning Song "Glory")?
The easy answer would be, "no," but it would also be the incorrect answer. I actually believe it was completely, 100% appropriate and I will tell you why.
First off, to pretend Selma was just about voting rights is just plain incorrect. On first blush, the focus is voting rights, but when you dig deeper, it was about so much more. Voting Rights was but a battle, the war was (and is) fair and just civil rights for all Americans. At the time the grievances were; Jim Crow segregation, violence toward people of color, police brutality, economic inequality, the high incarceration rates of men of color.
Ferguson, today's battleground, on first blush is about the shooting of Michael Brown, but the war is still focused on fair and just civil rights for all Americans. It's not just Michael Brown, but John Crawford III, Tyree Woodson, Eric Garner, Jordan Baker, Andy Lopez, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Dialo... its about police brutality and the militarization of police departments, economic inequality, the high incarceration rates of people of color.
Ferguson, like Selma before it, is just a cornerstone to bigger, damaged, foundation that needs repair.
Selma helped to galvanize the fight for other things like ending the war in Vietnam and pay equity. In fact, Dr. King was in Memphis marching for equal pay for garbage collectors when he was killed. Ferguson may also spark something in people to reignite the fight. The fight for marriage equality, equal pay and ending against ongoing wars.
I believe our responsibility as citizens of the world, going through the human experience, is to be introspective and rather than immediately criticize the people protesting try and understand just what the hell is going on in that community that they would react with such fervor? Let me put myself in their proverbial shoes before I start calling them out.
I think it is easy to have the benefit of history to support a past movement but it is hard to support something new. I bet right now if you polled 100 white people aged 70 plus who lived in the South during the Civil Rights Movement, 90% of them would say they supported MLK and the movement. We know that's bogus, but like they say, hindsight is 20/20. Ultimately, human nature doesn't like change or anything different. In 50 years, Ferguson may have a similar effect in the minds of Americans.
In saying all of this, I am not advocating what happened IN Ferguson the night of the non-inditement. There is never any reason for violence in these cases. I am, however, saying that society should be more empathetic and less disdainful of things that they do not immediately understand completely.
I also think it only fair to point out that all over the country there were larger protests that took place and they were non-violent and peaceful. The media doesn't want us to know that because we, as a society, are more valuable to them divided than we are united. That, however, is a discussion for another time.