Two elevators, two incidents, two marriages, one heap of public scrutiny. Do we as the public only support marriages if they purport to match our idea of what a “healthy” marriage looks like—publicly? After the Met Gala earlier this year, footage was leaked showing an out of control Solange physically attacking Jay-Z, her sister’s husband. From what we saw, both Jay and Beyonce maintained composure, as security for the couple subdued Solange. The group emerged from the elevator to awaiting paparazzi and until the video leaked no one was the wiser about the melee that occurred mere moments prior.
While the world has watched the events in Ferguson unfold, one of the questions many parents are struggling with is, “How do I talk with my children about what happened in Ferguson?” During a conversation with Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW, a professor of race relations and president of Black Men at Penn School of Social Work Inc., he offers the following tips for how to address the events of Ferguson and Mike Brown’s death.
Since the death of Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on August 19, another African American man, Kajieme Powell, was killed by Ferguson police only days later. This time the alleged crime was stealing juice and pastries from a convenience store. Powell, described by police officers and witnesses as brandishing a knife and behaving erratically, was shot by police and died at the scene. Powell was not holding a firearm and yet his behavior was enough to make two police officers, with loaded guns, believe their lives were threatened.
The unfortunate death of Mike Brown has resurfaced a growing frustration with the mistreatment of people of color, especially African Americans, by law enforcement. Mike Brown’s lifeless body lying on the street in Ferguson, Missouri seems as the crucible moment in the contemporary, yet enduring, appeal for dignity of African Americans. The fatal result of a meeting between Mike Brown and officer Darren Wilson encapsulates the recurring reality that African Americans are overwhelmingly affected by state violence. Growing criticisms of police department’s lack of diversity, transparency and accountability casually produces a disparity of African American victims of injustices. Among the roster of victims we uplift Aiyana Jones, Tarika Wilson, Kathryn Johnson, and Rekia Boyd as black women affected by police mistreatment.
As a junior in college, I changed my major from business to journalism because of my love of writing. That love of writing became a professional passion because of the transcendent words of a powerful black woman who many scholars credit with creating the field of investigative journalism.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett was described as a petite woman who towered over her peers in light of her courage, her reporting and her comfort in speaking truth to power.
Johnny Robinson, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, and now Michael Brown. Fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the monumental legislation intended to outlaw discrimination and segregation based on race, America has yet to live up to its promises. Fifty years later, race can and will be used against a black man walking the streets of his own country. Fifty years later, the black experience of two seemingly different generations are beyond paralleled and are indeed associated by more than genealogy.
“I don’t feel like, as a resident in an apartment complex, you should be paying basically for your grave site,” he said. “You shouldn’t be paying to be killed or murdered in your own house.”
Brave words from 19-year-old Ravon Jordan who, last July, found the courage, to address the Fayetteville, North Carolina City Council on behalf of his best friend, Shaniqua Simmons. Simmons and her boyfriend were gunned down in a local apartment complex, the Cambridge Arms. Their deaths marked the second double homicide at the 694-unit complex since January, 2014. Jordan’s view was that the complex should be shut down.
“The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.” – President Barack Obama
On college campuses across America this month, familiar sights and sounds have started up again as the college football world is now into thrust of fall camp. It is a time where hungry freshmen and sophomores seek to dethrone their upperclassmen teammates on the depth charts and battle-tested seniors look to cement their legacy.
I was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1973. My parents were immigrants from Guyana, a small Caribbean country on the northern coast of South America and they always believed in the American reality: that working hard, being a good person and staying conscientious were virtues with guaranteed dividends. They believed in the morality of American public discourse and in the relevance of the individual vote in local and national political conversations. I can remember overhearing my father and his friends as they spent hours discussing American culture, politics, and social change. It was, after all, the 1970’s. And those conversations planted seeds which would later set me on the path to pursue justice; social, political and otherwise.