Home > Uncategorized > Fear drives tragedy. Fear drives everything. And it sells….

Fear drives tragedy. Fear drives everything. And it sells….

I was watching last night like everybody else.

I was thinking a few things while awaiting the grand jury’s decision.

First and foremost I was thinking how, unless I could somehow cut my age in half (and then some), turn myself black. and move to a depressed inner city, I have absolutely no idea how someone like Michael Brown handled himself each day.

And unless I turn myself into a cop patrolling an inner city….an area that views me with suspicion at best…..I really have no idea what it’s like to be officer Darren Wilson.

3Imagine living in a world where everybody assumes your intentions are bad. You are judged for the clothes you wear. The music you listen to. The girls you date. The cars you drive and the areas you drive your cars thru. You enter a store and all eyes are on you. And your hands. And your pockets. You walk down the street with your friends and the sidewalk becomes a mini version of white-flight. Popular culture endlessly portrays you as a thug. A drug dealer. A gang-banger. Your options are limited. Raising yourself up by the bootstraps…..well that sounds swell, but the boots you have are torn and frayed and have to last the winter. But if you make it through a crumbling cash-strapped high-school….college is likely a financial impossibility. Nobody really gives a shit either. You’re either a statistic, or about to become one.

Imagine getting up every morning and putting on your badge, being willing to lay down your life for the community you’ve given your oath to protect. And imagine knowing that a large part of that community considers you an oppressor. A cold-eyed racist with a license to kill. A state-sponsored goon who gets his kicks out of hassling young men of color. Imagine parents coldly hustling their little children away from you as you attempt to engage them…..or a wall of silence being instantly erected whenever you need their cooperation. Imagine spending your entire working day without a single glint of recognition. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year.

Imaging this dueling scenario…..and then place yourself in front of a Fox News screen…..where all cops are portrayed as white knights waving the American flag and saving kittens on their days off. Or MSNBC, where all young men of color who victimize their own communities (and each other) are portrayed as secret mama’s boys who just need more TLC and larger relief checks.

Somewhere in the middle is where we need to get. But it’s messy as hell in there. So….we close the garage door, grab a 6-pack (and maybe a 6 shooter)….and continue being afraid. On our side of the divide.

Because that’s what this is really about isn’t it?

I don’t think Micheal Brown was a remorseless thug. I don’t think Darren Wilson is a racist neanderthal. Each feared the other for reasons they probably didn’t understand. That fear was taught. Fear drives tragedy.

Fear drives everything.

Fear sells.

Our public debates more and more deal with the boogy man. The wild-eyed Mexican fence jumper coming to take our jobs. Crazed muslim criminals cutting off heads on YouTube. Africans jumping on planes and flying Ebola into our living rooms. The lesbians across the street who want to get married and overwhelm the local school board with copies of “My Two Mommies”. It goes on and on. Election season is particularly ghastly, which opponents dueling each other on how to best convince grandma that’s she’s financially fucked because the other wants to take her social security check and use it to buy hookers. It’s funny….until you realize that it works. The men and women running this country now are, for the most part, the best fear mongers corporations can buy. I’m pretty sure this isn’t what the founding fathers had in mind. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t what Lincoln had in mind as he somehow kept this nation together despite the fact that we were killing each other to the tune of 600,000 fresh graves.

Is this what so many have fought and died for?

This shit?

I sensed this grand jury thing was smoke and mirrors. The prosecutor was handling it like somebody had left a live snake in his bed….so I wasn’t surprised at all with the verdict. I don’t know what happened the night Brown was killed because I wasn’t there. Some witnesses saw things one way. Some witnesses saw things another way. As usual in this country, the accounts were racially divided. Blacks see things one way. Whites see things another.

For a brief moment I thought there would be no violence.

But it all seemed so…..well….scripted. Like waiting 8 hours so they could announce the verdict in prime time. Does that pass the smell test to you?

To not riot…….it seemed almost a dereliction of duty. I know that sounds absurd and that’s exactly how I want it to sound. Read the sentence again if you need to. I’ll wait.

Ok?

It was all too perfectly laid out. The “Lights”. The “Camera”. All that was needed was the “Action”. And there’s always a few yambags ready, willing, and quite able to exploit any situation. And so it went down. A few lobbed bottles. Cars overturned……broken windows…..some tear gas in response, and then the fires. What looks better on TV than some torched cars? Cue the fucking carnival. “Look Ma! I’m on TV!” I would not be surprised if all the major cable news outlets already had cameras outside that liquor store….just goading folks into action. “Go on son…..grab that Cold-45 so I can take your picture and Hannity can call you an animal.” And the kid with the hoodie and the pants falling off his ass does your bidding. Because he knows that’s what’s expected of him. You’re noticing him. For once. He matters. For a brief moment he really matters.

You want to talk about racism? Shit. The whole broadcast…..as it went down….just reeked of it.

But that being said….I couldn’t stop thinking to myself…..”look at these assholes walking towards police one minute with their hands raised in mock supplication, and in the next minute ripping their clothes climbing out broken windows with arms full of booze.”

The duality of man and all that.

Our propensity to run around and break storefront windows and steal televisions when things don’t go our way is not something I ever understood….be it due to West Virginia winning a football game (“yes Virginia…..there are white riots too”) or (again) white folks being pissed because the beer runs out.

What happened last night was disgraceful. In any color. Nobody wins. There are no good guys.

And it makes me afraid.

In a bit…

–tf

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