I hesitate to write about hard topics like this sometimes, mostly because I don't want to merely be another voice weighing in with my two cents. I don't want to be capitalizing off of a hashtag. There are already so many voices speaking about what's happening in Ferguson after the police killing of Mike Brown - voices that are closer to the situation, more affected, blacker than mine.
But here's the thing. Nobody seems to be listening to those voices...
When they say there is a historical and present reality of racial tensions and profiling between the black community and police.
When they say they are afraid for the lives of their black sons for reasons parents of white sons don't ever worry about.
When they say there is a media bias in the portrayal of blacks.
When a man is killed in Walmart by police for holding an airsoft gun he intended to purchase, when an ASU professor is tackled by police for jaywalking, when Stop and Frisk is an actual reality.
So maybe it's time for other voices to start speaking up, so that their own neighbors, friends, and family start to listen because it's coming from one of their own. So I'm going to speak up as someone who can no longer publicly ignore some of these problems. I don't and can't know exactly how the people of Ferguson are feeling, but there are some things I do know...
I know that as a potential adoptive mother to young black males, I cannot deny the fact that raising them looks different in our society, and there will be things I worry about that I would not otherwise.
I know that racism and white privilege are real things which cannot be ignored and that "colorblindness" is not a solution.
I know we cannot ignore the history of violence against and dehumanizing of blacks in our not so distant past and how that impacts the present and future.
I know that white people refusing to listen to the voices of black people about their own experiences being black in America is a lot like men trying to tell women how it feels to be pregnant, and that they should just get over morning sickness, and that they're imagining their mood swings.
I know that arguing whether Brown was a good kid or not is basically arguing over whether he specifically deserved to die, and is in itself disgraceful.
I know that distractions like the looting and black-on-black violence are just that, distractions from the main problem, when they should serve to illustrate it. Martin Luther King Jr. himself said that "a riot is the language of the unheard."
I know that the mere use of the term "riot" and cops in riot gear can turn a peaceful but heated demonstration into said riot.
I know that the militarization of our police is a frightening reality with real consequences, and that freedom does not look like peaceful protestors and reporters being gassed, shot at, and arrested.
I don't have a simple solution, and don't think there is one. But, I do know that something needs to change, and the only way to change is to first acknowledge the problem and our part in it. The people who have the luxury of not having to deal with it, need to choose to deal with it, and believe the voices of the the only people who have the right to speak to their own experiences.