Gathered Around the TV

Monday, November 24th 9:57p.m.

The glare of the screen reflects off the faces of my extended family, gathered around the TV screen in my grandparents’ basement in Rolla, MO as Saint Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch comes into the frame.

There will be no indictment of Darren Wilson.

We watch in silence as the announcement continues, silent because we all are thinking very different things. Most likely, some people here are glad the cop who murdered 17-year-old Michael Brown has gotten off without charges. Some of us are praying to God for peace on the streets in Ferguson tonight. I’m silently glaring at the television set, willing it to spontaneously burst into flames. I leave the room to scream into a pillow as the prosecutor details the exact location of each of the bullet holes in Brown’s body.

When I return, Obama is in one corner of the screen, talking about the “good citizens” who are peacefully demonstrating, while in the other corner of the screen heavily militarized cops shoot rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd in Ferguson. Obama says violence is never justified.

“Unless you’re a cop shooting at unarmed black kids,” I can’t help by blurt out, into the silence.

I want to talk about how angry I am that Darren Wilson is getting away with murder. I want to talk about how this is not new, how this is the legacy of the slave code, of Jim Crow laws, of redlining, of lynching. I want to throw this chair out the window. I want to talk about why it is that as cops in armored tanks with huge guns and tear gas canisters roll through the streets of Ferguson all I’m hearing is concerns that protestors might be violent (is violence not justified in self-defense? only if you’re a cop, I guess.)

But instead I’m going to get a good night’s rest, because tomorrow I’ll be on the streets in Ferguson. To my friends in Oakland and all over, stay as safe as you can. No justice, no peace, take to the streets.

Now is not the time to be silent.

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