Ferguson, Missouri is an American Product, Through and Through
August 18, 2014 Leave a comment
I get it. There are a long list of things it would be very un-Presidential for President Obama to say (e.g., “Look, the United States was founded on the genocide and displacement of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans and until we deal with these realities, our hopes for thorough, world-changing justice can’t be called realistic.) It’s his job to seek justice under the law as it is written and, given the way the law is written and lived in our country, I can see why Obama’s naming the reality of centuries-old racial disparities seems progressive. However, it’s only progressive for an American President which, frankly, ain’t sayin’ much! There is enough racist bashing of the President going on and I certainly don’t want to contribute to that cause, but justice is always first and foremost about holding power accountable. One doesn’t need to be an “Obama hater” to be justifiably critical of the President.
That said, President Obama hasn’t said enough. He hasn’t said enough about the existential hell that makes risking one’s life in a riot a laudable act. It’s easy to look at rioters and say, “they’re only causing trouble.” But do we actually think rioters are just bored, crazy, or lazy??? Do we actually think that rioting is the result of opportunistic slobs who find pleasure in setting buildings on fire??? No! What kinds of lives are we leaving people to live that make this type of rioting a possibility? What types of realities make risking one’s life seem a worthy choice?
I’m not trying to romanticize anything, but if I err, I want to err on the sides of persons that are systematically left to live in riotous circumstances. We can’t be content to leave folks in terrible schools, in neighborhoods with crooked cops, and stores full of poisonous food and then ask them to act and live as if these things aren’t real. These are the “core issues” Obama alludes to, but we ought to make it plain. FERGUSON, MO IS AN AMERICAN PRODUCT, THROUGH AND THROUGH!!!