I wasn’t on the jury. I didn’t hear the more than 70 hours of testimony. And no, I didn’t hear the details provided by the more than 60 witnesses that were brought forth during the Missouri trial of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the man who killed Michael Brown, an African American teenager. All I have heard this entire time was what most of the rest of us heard, which was what was reported to us via any number of news sites, shows, blogs, and whatever we may have heard from friends and acquaintances we trusted to know what they were talking about.
So yeah. I admit it. And I’ll admit it up front. There’s a lot I don’t know about what happened on that day when Michael Brown was killed. Hey, I wasn’t even there.
But here’s what I do know, all right? I know that on Thanksgiving Day, the day that I will be enjoying with nearly 40 members of my family (and that’s just on my wife’s side) in Baltimore, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., the parents of Michael Brown Jr., will be dying inside in Ferguson. Their child was killed, and three days before the holiday where we here in America are expected to feast, rejoice, and give thanks, the parents of a dead child were given the news that the man who killed their son will face no punishment for his actions. None. And they know that the man who killed their son was a white police officer. And they know what that means in America just as all the non-white residents of all the Fergusons all across the country know what that has meant for so long.
Black-on-black crime? Of course they know about it. Being black they know about it way better than those who want to keep bringing it up each and every time another black boy is killed in the way that Michael Brown was killed. And they hate it more too. But they’re sick of how the blood-soaked and murderous intentions of their taxpayer-funded protectors are so often justified by the same crowd who keeps asking them to never, never, never forget those blacks who kill other blacks. But perhaps they might be more willing to join in that chorus if it wasn’t for how it seems whenever someone like Officer Wilson kills a black boy it’s in self defense, and whenever a black boy kills a black boy it barely makes the news, but now what do we imagine might have happened if it was a white boy making threatening gestures to a a black police officer in a white neighborhood…?
If it hasn’t happened to you then no, you can’t imagine. But if you are the parents of Trayvon Martin, then imagination isn’t required. Same goes for the parents of Emmett Till. Or if you happen to be the parents of so many other young black boys who are killed each and every year due to suspicious and highly questionable circumstances in a country where justice too often seems an illusion, then very little is left for the imagination to chew on. Because when you’ve lived in this country long enough, and you’ve been black long enough, there are some things you just know about how your life will be.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.