The chant in Ferguson has been, “No justice, no peace.” I’m struggling to find much justice at all in the Ferguson situation. I mourn for the mother who will never again see her son’s face. I think of the business owners who struggle to pick up the pieces of their looted and ransacked stores. I think about our attorney general, who in one fell swoop became judge and jury when he showed up in that small Missouri town. I can only imagine what Darren Wilson must have thought as he became aware of the obvious position and conclusion of the White House: guilty. Is that justice?
Is it justice for reporters to pick a side and then publically state it? And is it justice for entire networks to decide on a position and then filter all of their content through that lens? They ALL did it. We are indeed living in a new era of justice. For many of the protestors in Ferguson and across the country, justice isn’t actually what they want, rather it’s revenge.
In my small part of the country, a Ferguson type of “justice” was recently served to a white man who had hoped to enjoy a meal. West Point, Mississippi is a drive-through town just an hour south of Tupelo. On Saturday, August 23rd, a white man - 32-year-old Ralph Weems - was reportedly warned not to enter a Waffle House, as it was not “a safe place for whites.” Apparently black patrons were discussing Michael Brown’s death, and the situation was volatile.
According to reports, Weems entered the restaurant anyway, and an argument ensued. The police were called, and Weems and his friend left for a different restaurant. They were followed by a mob of angry black men, and Weems and his friend were attacked. Weems was beaten nearly to death. Courtez McMilliam, a 22-year-old black man, has since been arrested in connection to the beating.
Is this what we really want? Is this the sort of justice we’d like to see in America? There are some who say yes. When people like Spike Lee call for an “uprising,” people feel empowered to break laws. When Eric Holder says, “I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man," black men feel justified in executing “Ferguson justice.” When a white woman named Elizabeth Broadbent - AKA Manic Pixie Mama - writes a viral blog telling black moms everywhere that our sons will not grow up to enjoy the peace her white sons enjoy, it breeds bitterness. It breeds a toxic bitterness that she is actually protected from in that suburban neighborhood she mentions in her blog.
Something has gone off the rails here lately. And I wish someone reasonable would step in. I wish Eric Holder would have acknowledged the color of his skin while underscoring that we are a nation of laws and due process. I wish Spike Lee would not keep dragging all of the black community into his preoccupation with color. And I wish Manic Pixie Mama would have asked her black friends if they feel like their sons are victims. My husband and I are raising two boys, and I assure you they are not victims. When people are careless with words, when they are sensational in their approach to real issues, we get a mob of black men beating a white man and calling it justice for Michael Brown.
If the evidence comes out that Officer Darren Wilson acted with legally justified force, what will Eric Holder say? Will Spike Lee make a movie about it anyway? Will Manic Pixie Mama tell me suddenly my boys are “safe”? If Michael Brown attacked Officer Wilson, I want Officer Wilson to be vindicated, and I want public apologies (I won’t hold my breath for those). However, if he used unlawful force and in fact murdered Michael Brown, then I want him to be bound by the same court system that binds the criminals he arrested.
I’m black, and I want justice in Ferguson.