Nina Simone singing. Chuck D rhyming. Ghosts of my dad and granddad sitting in the backseat. The ghost of Michael Brown in the passenger seat. I ride waiting. Driving around listening to the news out of Ferguson. There are police on almost every block. Also riding and waiting. I ride waiting for a decision. Ride waiting for a change. Every single Black person that I know has been waiting for news to come out of the Show Me State. Afraid of, yet fully knowing exactly what they would show me. What they would show us. But as I ride around with my car full of ghosts I realize that not everyone is waiting. …
Nina Simone singing. Chuck D rhyming. Ghosts of my dad and granddad sitting in the backseat.
The ghost of Michael Brown in the passenger seat.
I ride waiting. Driving around listening to the news out of Ferguson. There are police on almost every block. Also riding and waiting.
I ride waiting for a decision. Ride waiting for a change. Every single Black person that I know has been waiting for news to come out of the Show Me State. Afraid of, yet fully knowing exactly what they would show me. What they would show us.
But as I ride around with my car full of ghosts I realize that not everyone is waiting. Some people are out jogging or walking their dogs. Some are out shopping at the grocery store grabbing something for Thanksgiving.
That’s going to be hard this year.
And then the news finally comes. Delivered at night after Micahel was killed during the day.
The transcripts speak to how they killed not a young man, but an “it.” A “demon.” And how this situation did not even warrant a trial.
I ride. Nina and Chuck turned up in my mind. My teeth are grinding reflecting the internal stress I feel and have felt from this, from the reports about Ebola, from Cosby, from local tragedies, from a pile of daily microaggressions that stack up to one big macro one on the shoulders of people of African descent. Dissent.
Hands gripping the wheel so that the Black skin on my knuckles almost turns white. More police are out now. I’m getting lectured about being peaceful while tear gas, smoke and flares are shot at my people by those wearing weapons. I am urged to remain peaceful when gun sales in the area have gone up 700 percent in anticipation of this night. Don’t tell me to be peaceful. Tell them!
I can’t speak. My country has scarred me once again. How can I go to work in the morning on a train full of people who care not? At a workplace of people who missed the story because of football or reality television?
I oddly hear the Pledge of Allegiance through the cries in my mind. It is hard to imagine ever saying those words again. One nation? Indivisible? With Liberty and Justice…
Protesters cry out once again “No Justice, No Peace.”
I ride on and find myself at a crossroads. One way leads to a road of hating this country that sure seems to hate people who look like me. Another is a road of change. I want to get rid of guns completely. No one needs them. I want a police that isn’t an army with war zone weapons. I want my kids to not be in danger every time they leave the house — with each police stop being a potentially fatal encounter. I want them to trust the police, to like the police and to not be afraid and resentful of them. I want brave politicians. Clergy who will actually preach about this on Sunday. Neighbors who care. I want change. Police Body Cameras, Boycotting Black Friday, Justice Department Investigation into the Police Department in and around Ferguson, New Gun laws, Real Dialogue about Race…
But it’s easier to hate. It’s easier to stop caring and feeling.
No longer riding and waiting, my car has broken down. Ghosts have flown away. Not resting in peace. I stand, like so many of us, at this crossroads. A careless hate in one direction and a commitment to work for change in the other. I am mad. Hurt. Not surprised. Perhaps a little traumatized from the emotional overload that results from too much TV and internet. I want to give up. But then I think of my three little girls, Faith Hope and Love. I think of this nation that I love. I will say the pledge again, but not as a promise, but as a reminder of what we are working for. And I pledge myself to peace. Because we know what the police and those who lead us to war don’t: That violence never begets peace. Only peace begets peace. And I pledge myself to the holy work of exorcizing these evils of violence and racism. They are the only “demons” in this situation. Not an eighteen-year-old man.
No longer riding and waiting, I get behind my car and push. Nina and Chuck are joined by Sam Cooke. “A Change is Gonna Come.”