Ferguson is just the surface of a generational wound

Kevin Hendricks Jr. - @seekevrun

Not a single emotion was spared Monday evening after the news was announced that Darren Wilson, the 28-year-old Missouri police officer, would not be indicted on any charges in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

To say emotions ran high would be a gross understatement.

As is the case with any high profile event of this nature, opinions ran all over the place: from absolute shock, all the way to unadulterated glee. A quick glance at Twitter or Instagram would yield a flurry of messages and posts in which people, myself included, let loose their thoughts on the grand jury’s decision.

Like the rest of country, I learned about the decision late in the evening, and my first reaction was essentially a non-reaction. I felt a void; a complete and utter emptiness lined the pit of my stomach.

It was only a little over a year ago that I was in the same position as I rode the wave that was the Trayvon Martin case. That case ignited a debate that analyzed a number of issues, chief among them being race relations in America.

Many used the Trayvon Martin case to highlight the inequities that occur when race and the law are coupled together. This case was a lightning rod that sparked a much-needed discussion concerning how minority groups, African-Americans in particular, are treated and viewed by the authorities and society. And while discussions like these are needed, I would be lying if I said I didn’t grow weary of it, because the events that trigger these discussions have become routine.

Oscar Grant sparked a discussion. Jordan Davis sparked a discussion. Sean Bell sparked a discussion. Eric Garner sparked a discussion. Melissa Harris-Perry actually did a powerful segment in which she explained from 2006-2012, a Caucasian police officer has killed a black person “at least twice in this country.” Now, while it is always advisable for individuals to conduct their own research as to the exact numbers of incidents such as these, the message Perry made was abundantly clear and indisputable: The rights and lives of African-Americans in this country are seemingly non-existent.

The facts surrounding the Ferguson case have bounced all over the place. However, for me, the facts did not matter, because I have come to learn that even when the killer is seen holding the smoking gun, when it comes to the killing of a black man, facts mean next to nothing.

Time and time again a person of color becomes the target at every stage of the game, whether it comes from the authorities or the leader of the neighborhood watch. Whether it occurs before a man is gunned down in the street, or after, history has proven being black in this country includes an automatic bullseye on your back, no exchanges or returns accepted.

So, if society at large truly believes the anger that has erupted is from this singular incident, then it shows just how uninformed they are to the anger and hurt felt by people of color.

Routinely, African-Americans have been told to basically suck it up, as if we are the problem. Should we get stopped on the street, it’s our fault, because wearing a hoodie and looking suspicious is basis enough for being harassed (and apparently killed).

The truth is, the seeds that paint blacks as worthless degenerates were sowed long ago, and have now established roots that run so deep, I doubt this country will ever be able to fully get rid of this tree.

For years, blacks have been viewed as less than, as enemy number one. Since our exportation to this country, we have been ‘othered’ in every way imaginable. And while the society in charge would like us to “just get over it already” (swear I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried), it is hard to get over it when a young black man is gunned down in the street without warrant.

It is hard to get over it when a black women is facing 60 years for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband, in the same state that allowed George Zimmerman to get away with shooting Trayvon Martin with no legal repercussions. It is hard to get over it when a 2012 study published by the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows that black men are likely to receive sentences up to 20 percent longer than those of whites for certain crimes of the same nature.

How can black people, or any marginalized group, get over anything when society continues to open and pour salt into the wound.

There are luxuries white people are afforded that I will never know.

It does not matter how much money I have or how well I dress and speak. It does not matter that I am a college educated male who has never seen the inside of a cop car. None of those things matter, because despite all of these things, I still clench up walking past a cop even though I have done nothing wrong. Because if I were to ever be gunned down, the story would focus on the fact that I had marijuana in my system above everything else. Because in the eyes of society, no matter what the circumstances around my death would be, no matter what the evidence says, I am already marked guilty.

While we as a people, like all, are not without or faults, we are certainly not the ones who held the brush. So, until those in charge choose to aid in painting a new scenery, me getting over it, is not going to happen.