On Ferguson

We are not making progress right now.

One of the first responses to the Ferguson grand jury outcome I saw was a request that we not allow injustice to “dim our optimism” because “History shows inexorable progress towards enlightenment, century after century.” I respect the person who said this. He means well, I am sure.

We are not making progress right now.

I have to worry about being killed by anyone, anywhere, for any reason. We all do. What makes my worry slightly more maddening is that I have been made to understand that I cannot push this worry down and consider it irrational. I must keep in mind how out of place my clothes, speech, presence and body are in any surrounding for any and all of these things will be cited as justification for my death.

I am a college graduate who works in tech and I know that the fact that I shoplifted over a decade ago could and most likely would be provided as ‘context’ for my hypothetical death.
Honestly, this feels like only the slightest variation of how people of color felt about lynchings or racial violence from the ‘bad times’ that we’ve put behind us.

Century over Century progress is built in moments. Moments like now. Moments like the last few years. There is a frustrating condescension in pointing out that we ‘have made progress’. We certainly have made progress but to point it out now is to imply that we have made enough to feel that tonight is an anomaly or an exception. It is not.