WHAT MATTERS

with Janee Woods

Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Michael Brown Murder

Michael Brown

As we all know by now, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenage boy, was gunned down by the police while walking to his grandmother’s house in the middle of the afternoon. For the past few days my Facebook newsfeed has been full of stories about the incidents unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri.

But then I realized something.

For the first couple of days, almost all of the status updates expressing anger and grief about yet another extrajudicial killing of an unarmed black boy, the news articles about the militarized police altercations with community members and the horrifying pictures of his dead body on the city concrete were posted by people of color. Outpourings of rage and demands for justice were voiced by black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Arab American Muslims. But posts by white people were few at first and those that I saw were posted mostly by my white activist or academic friends who are committed to putting themselves on the frontlines of any conversation about racial or economic injustice in America. And almost nothing, silence practically, by the majority of my nonactivist, nonacademic white friends- those same people who gleefully jumped on the bandwagon to dump buckets of ice over their heads to raise money for ALS and those same people who immediately wrote heartfelt messages about reaching out to loved ones suffering from depression following the suicide of the extraordinary Robin Williams, may he rest in peace. But an unarmed black teenager minding his own business walking down the street in broad daylight gets harassed and murdered by a white police officer and those same people seem to have nothing urgent to say about pervasive, systemic, deadly racism in America?

They have nothing to say?

Why? The simplest explanation is because Facebook is, well, Facebook. It’s not the New York Times or a town hall meeting or the current events class at your high school. It’s the internet playground for sharing cat videos, cheeky status updates about the joys and tribulations of living with toddlers, and humble bragging about your fabulous European vacation. Some people don’t think Facebook is the forum for serious conversations. Okay, that’s fine if you fall into that category and your wall is nothing but rainbows and happy talk about how much you love your life.

However, I think the explanation is more complex and mirrors the silence of many people that I witness in real life. A lot of white people aren’t speaking out publicly against the killing of Michael Brown because they don’t see a space for themselves to engage meaningfully in the conversation so that they can move to action against racism. It’s not so much that they have nothing to say but rather they don’t see an opportunity being opened up for them to say something or to do something that matters. Or they might not be sure what to say or how to do it. They might have a hard time seeing a role for themselves in the fight against racism because they aren’t racist, they don’t feel that racism affects them or their loved ones personally, they worry that talking about race and differences between cultures might make things worse, or they think they rarely see overt racism at play in their everyday lives. And, sometimes, they are afraid. There’s a real fear of saying the wrong thing even if the intention is pure, of being alienated socially and economically from other white people for standing in solidarity with black people, or of putting one’s self in harm’s way, whether the harm be physical or psychological.  I’m not saying those aren’t valid fears but I am challenging white people to consider carefully whether failing to speak out or act because of those fears is justified when white silence and inaction mean the oppression and death of black people.

Let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities. And, quite frankly, because white people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color. My white friends who’ve spoken out harshly against the murder of Michael Brown end with a similar refrain: What can I do that will matter in the fight against racism?

White people who are sick and tired of racism should work hard to become white allies.

In the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown, may he rest in power, here are some ways for white people to become white allies who are engaged thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and standing on the side of justice and equity. This list is a good place to start your fight to dismantle racial inequity and shine a light on the oppressive structures that lead to yet another extrajudicial killing of a black person.

1. Learn about the racialized history of Ferguson and how it reflects the racialized history of America.  Michael Brown’s murder is not a social anomaly or statistical outlier. It is the direct product of deadly tensions born from decades of housing discrimination, white flight, intergenerational poverty and racial profiling. The militarized police response to peaceful assembly by the people mirrors what happened in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement.

2. Reject the “He Was a Good Kid” narrative and lift up the “Black Lives Matter” narrative. Michael Brown was a good kid, by accounts of those who knew him during his short life. But that’s not why his death is tragic. His death isn’t tragic because he was a sweet kid on his way to college next week. His death is tragic because he was a human being and his life mattered. The Good Kid narrative might provoke some sympathy but what it really does is support the lie that as a rule black people, black men in particular, have a norm of violence or criminal behavior. The Good Kid narrative says that this kid didn’t deserve to die because his goodness was the exception to the rule. This is wrong. This kid didn’t deserve to die because he was a human being and black lives matter.

3. Use words that speak the truth about the disempowerment, oppression, disinvestment and racism that are rampant in our communities.  Be mindful, political and socially aware with your language. Notice how the mainstream news outlets are using words like riot and looting to describe the uprising in Ferguson.  What’s happening is not a riot. The people are protesting and engaging in a justified rebellion. They have a righteous anger and are revolting against the police who have terrorized them for years.

4. Understand the modern forms of race oppression and slavery and how they are intertwined with policing, the courts and the prison industrial complex.  We don’t enslave black people on the plantation cotton fields anymore. Now we lock them up in for profit prisons at disproportionate rates and for longer sentences for the same crimes than white people. And when they are released, they are second class citizens stripped of voting rights and denied access to housing, employment and education.  Mass incarceration is The New Jim Crow.

5. Examine the interplay between poverty and racial equity. The twin pillar of racism is economic injustice but do not use class issues to trump race issues and avoid the racism conversation. While racism and class oppression are tangled together in this country, the fact remains that the number one predictor of prosperity and access to opportunity is race.

6. Diversify your media. Be intentional about looking for and paying close attention to diverse voices of color on the tv, on the internet and on the radio to help shape your awareness, understanding and thinking about political, economic and social issues. Check out Colorlines, The Root or This Week in Blackness to get started.

7. Adhere to the philosophy of nonviolence as you resist racism and oppression. Dr. Martin Luther King advocated for nonviolent conflict reconciliation as the primary strategy of the Civil Rights Movement and the charge of His Final Marching Orders.  East Point Peace Academy offers online resources and in person training on nonviolence that is accessible to all people regardless of ability to pay.

8. Find support from fellow white allies. Challenge and encourage each other to dig deeper, even when it hurts and especially when you feel confused and angry and sad and hopeless, so that you can be more authentic in your shared journey with people of color to uphold and protect principles of antiracism and equity in our society.  Go to workshops like Training for Change’s Whites Confronting Racism or European Dissent by The People’s Institute.  Attend The White Privilege Conference or the Facing Race conference. Some organizations offer scholarships or reduced fees to help people attend if funding is an issue.

9. If you are a person of faith, look to your scriptures or holy texts for guidance. Seek out faith based organizations like Sojourners and follow faith leaders that incorporate social justice into their ministry. Ask your clergy person to address antiracism in their sermons and teachings. If you are not a person of faith, learn how the world’s religions view social justice issues so that when you have opportunity to invite people of faith to also become white allies, you can talk with them meaningfully about why being a white ally is supported by their spiritual beliefs.

10. Don’t be afraid to be unpopular. Let’s be realistic. If you start calling out all the racism you witness (and it will be a lot once you know what you’re looking at) some people might not want to hang out with you as much. That’s a risk you’ll need to accept. But think about it like this: staying silent when you witness oppression is the same as supporting oppression. So you can be the popular person who stands with the oppressor or you can be the (maybe) unpopular person who stands for equality and dignity for all people. Which person would you prefer to be? And honestly, if some people don’t want to hang out with you anymore once you show yourself as a white ally then why would you even want to be friends with them anyway? They’re probably racists.

11. Be proactive in your own community. As a white ally, you are not limited to being reactionary and only rising up to stand on the side of justice when black people are being subjected to violence very visibly and publicly. Moments of crisis do not need to be the catalyst because taking action against systemic racism is always appropriate because systemic racism permeates nearly every institution and community in this country. Some ideas for action: organize a community conversation about the state of police-community relations* in your neighborhood, support leaders of color by donating your time or money to their campaigns or causes, ask the local library to host a showing and discussion group about the documentary RACE – The Power of an Illusion, attend workshops to learn how to transform conflict into opportunity for dialogue. Gather together diverse white allies that represent the diversity of backgrounds in your community. Antiracism is not a liberals only cause. Antiracism is a movement for all people, whether they be conservative, progressive, rich, poor, urban or rural.

12. Don’t give up. We’re 400 years into this racist system and it’s going to take a long, long, long time to dismantle these atrocities. The antiracism movement is a struggle for generations, not simply the hot button issue of the moment. Transformation of a broken system doesn’t happen quickly or easily. You may not see or feel the positive impact of your white allyship in the next month, the next year, the next decade or even your lifetime. But don’t ever stop. Being a white ally matters because your thoughts, deeds and actions will be part of what turns the tide someday. Change starts with the individual.

This is a list of just 12 ways to be an ally. There are many more ways and I invite you to consider what else you can do to become a strong and loyal white ally. People of color, black people especially, cannot and should not shoulder the burden for dismantling the racist, white supremacist system that devalues and criminalizes black life without the all in support, blood, sweat and tears of white people. If you are not already a white ally, now is the time to become one.

People are literally dying.

Black people are dying and it’s not your personal fault that black people are dying because you’re white but if you don’t make a purposeful choice to become a white ally and actively work to dismantle the racist system running America for the benefit of white people then it becomes your shame because you are white and black lives matter. And if you live your whole life and then die without making a purposeful choice to become a white ally then American racism becomes your legacy.

The choice is yours.

 

*Disclosure: I work at this organization but the views expressed in this piece are my own and not necessarily those of the organization.

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556 comments on “Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Michael Brown Murder

  1. Steve
    November 25, 2014

    “an unarmed black teenager minding his own business walking down the street”

    “Michael Brown was a good kid . . . he was a sweet kid”

    “What’s happening is not a riot.”

    Was this article written for The Onion?

    • nick
      November 26, 2014

      See

      • nick
        November 26, 2014

        You can’t be serious. Blacks are burning down and robbing there own town. Its not because they care about some chubby criminal that got shot by a police officer. It’s just because they like to steal. When a white woman and her daughter are beaten to death with a rock in America no one hears about it. They hear about brown. When two black guys rob a white women on the street then shoot her baby because she refused them people only hear about trayvin martin. I would appreciate a black man standing up and telling his own kind to stop the violence and hate. Black on black violence is way higher than any other type in The usa. But no body says anything until a white man has to put down a black thug. I’m sorry if we refuse to be victimed by anyone, regardless of race or gender. We need another MLK. Not obama, or jackson, or some dumb little girl with a blog

    • Joe
      November 26, 2014

      I wish it was… God, I don’t know what is more inane; the gormless mass of people frothing at the mouths at something they know little about, or the person who wrote the article…

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Steve, take a deep breath. Ask why white teenagers who shoplift and jaywalk don’t seem to get executed for it. Read up on the predatory culture of the Ferguson Police Department. Try to imagine living on hourly minimum wage and having small traffic infractions fund 90 percent of the city budget. Read what law enforcement experts have to say about how Wilson could have de-escalated the situation. Consider, given the culture, whether Wilson may have ramped up the tension.

      I think the Onion article is White people oblivious to the obvious injustice. NYPD choking an unarmed black man. The black man in Walmart getting killed for carry a toy gun that was sold in the store… Those stories, and Whites apathy, more closely resemble Onion articles to me. And yes, I’m White.

  2. AudieRose
    November 25, 2014

    I did a couple readings on this and it relates to what you wrote. http://youtu.be/og1Cka92akg

  3. misssarahradio
    November 25, 2014

    *stands up and applauds*

    • cody.raye95@yahoo.com
      November 27, 2014

      What exactly are you applauding? Her ridiculous grammar or her narrow minded outlook on what her version of racism is?

      • Cynthia
        November 29, 2014

        Cody, the name calling “narrow minded” and the derision “her version” is not very nice. And you are drawing on White Privilege because surely it’s “obvious” that her version is narrow minded. Never mind that “her version” is supported by a ton of actual DATA.

        It seems to me, that you are drawing on a rather narrow White Privilege world here. Maybe a look at the data and talk with the impact on real people will open your heart and mind to a different reality. Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

        We White people can’t just live in our psychological and cultural “little corner of the earth” and expect to be experts on other peoples experience.

  4. cesar
    November 25, 2014

    Tragic as all this is why the fuck is this about race. has nothing to do with race. this so called kid had just committed a robbery, was walking down the middle of the street when he was confronted by a police officer who was subsequently attacked by this so called kid. at no pint did race come into this. sorry but if you attack a police you are going to get shot. black, white, brown, purple and yellow. the only reason this is about race is because race baiters like you want to make it about race.

    • Jas
      November 26, 2014

      Janee is just another of many biased, race-baiting bigots. She is clearly to self-righteous to look inward. Tragic indeed.

      • Liz
        November 26, 2014

        And you’re clearly too uneducated to use the right form of “to.” Certainly tragic indeed.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Cesar. It is about race. The Ferguson Police has a culture of racism that has been terrorizing the black community there for years. The Michael Brown shooting lit the gasoline that was already there. It is a special White Privilege that we can look at the narrow facts of one case, outside of its larger context, and declare it “not about race.”

      White teenagers don’t typically get killed for jaywalking and shoplifting. Think about that for awhile, before name calling truth tellers as “race baiters.”

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        Two-thirds of the citizens of Ferguson are black. If a similar majority of voting age citizens voted for black elected officials, couldn’t they change how the city and police department are run? Probably not…Rev. Sharpton has convinced them that they are helpless victims who need him and his ilk.

  5. Craig
    November 25, 2014

    The problem with your article is that is based on an untruth. Michael Brown was not “minding his own business”. He had just robbed a store stealing cigars and was walking in the middle of the street instead of the sidewalk and blocking traffic. If he stopped being a thief and listened to the police instead of starting an altercation, he would be alive today. Black people need to stop blamming others and start looking in the mirror to fix their culture. It doesn’t matter if the person was black and the cop was white. I would expect a black cop to shoot someone in self defense if he told someone to stop and they kept coming at them. RACISM SUCKS, but blacks are the biggest racists of all races but won’t admit it. The notion that black people can’t get ahead in life without a “white ally” is as ignorant as the people who think the cop killed Michael Brown because he was black.

    • cody.raye95@yahoo.com
      November 27, 2014

      The problem with this article is the writer is a certified nimrod. I find it hard to believe that a woman who would use the word “allyship” is a former attorney. The biggest problem is that she doesn’t understand that white people experience racism and oppression every day- and that she herself is perpetuating it by writing this abomination she calls an article. A “black boy” should never have been addressed had she not intended to sound like the uneducated boob that she is… By doing so, she, too is fanning the fire of racism by segregating the races. He was a young American boy, and he had just committed a strong armed robbery. Yes, he had those who loved him and he losing his life is a terrible thing- but more terrible was the citizens of Ferguson mindlessly committing vandalism, burglary, arson and even manslaughter in response to the verdict against the police officer who has to live with what happened every day for the rest of his life.

      • Cynthia
        November 29, 2014

        Cody, I recommend that you re-read the article with an open heart and mind. Next, you might want to stop calling an accomplished black woman names like “nimrod.” Then, you might want to read up on the culture of the Ferguson Police…

        Read up on White Privilege and wonder why your conclusions aren’t shared by people black people who have a very different experience of the police and justice system. Or by white allies who have the cultural experiences to at least understand that they are living a different reality than ours.

        Maybe you might consider that applying your experience to others might not be so successful. Perhaps work on a bit of compassion and empathy. Hint: the name calling has to stop before the empathy and compassion enter into it…

  6. Esteban
    November 25, 2014

    As an international student from Paraguay studying in the US, I observe that black people, not white people, are the ones perpetuating this ‘racism’ and stereotypes. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. The author here is doing exactly just that, creating a divide between ‘white’ people and ‘black’ people as if they were of different social groups where one of them may or may not be underprivileged. This article clearly lacks substantial research, mostly covered with media rhetoric and sofism. Let me also point out that this incident is not about race, the black people living in the area made it about race. It is unfortunate that Michael Brown, may he RIP, had to die this way. But if you think this had anything to do with the color of his skin, you are so wrong.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Esteban, re-check your “facts.” If you were my student you would flunk. The data heartily supports Ms. Woods account.

      You get an F on facts and compassion.

  7. Craig
    November 25, 2014

    BTW, I’m South African, so that makes me an African-American also. Don’t forget that!

  8. joe
    November 25, 2014

    He had just committed a robbery and attacked a police officer. I don’t think race has anything to do with it. Anybody should expect to get shot if you attack a police officer, whether they are black, white, or any other color for that matter.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Shoplifting and jaywalking don’t typically end up in death for white teenagers. Did Wilson escalate the situation? Did he do all he could to de-escalate it (law enforcement professionals say no, he should have performed a “strategic retreat” and used different “tools” before resorting to his gun).

      We know that the cultural climate of the Ferguson Police was racist (Confederate Flag, really!) and prayed constantly on residents, funding 90 percent of the city budget with minor traffic infractions (a population of impoverished hourly wage workers), etc. There is a long history of racial abuse, a few leading to $$$ settlements. Look up the truck driver who was just passing through and ended up in the hospital with a skull fracture.

      It’s a real special kind of White Privilege that can lift up its favorite “facts” out of a clearly racist context, and declare it “not about race.”

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        “Shoplifting and jaywalking don’t typically end up in death for white teenagers.”

        They can if they disobey the direct orders of a police officer and punch him in the face. Consider the drugged up white college student shot in October in Alabama by a black cop.

        Where is the national outrage about that? Where are the white rioters and looters?

  9. Frank
    November 25, 2014

    This article is complete b.s.. Its whole premise is based on a lack of angry comments by white people on Facebook. Maybe there is a complete lack of comments because they knew this was just one more in a long line of race baiting by the democrat party and by Jesse and Sharpton. They had no racial bias. They simply saw a man who resisted arrest and got shot for it. It starts by saying that an unarmed black boy was walking to his grandmothers house. It fails to mention that that same boy had just robbed a store and assaulted the clerk. Amazing how innocent he sounds when you omit certain key points. That unarmed black teenager who was minding his own business in this article was, to the contrary, not minding his business, buy fleeing the scene of a crime, a crime that he committed. All of this “black lives matter” crap is just that, crap. If black lives matter to black people, why are they only upset when it is a white person who takes that black life? No, black lives don’t matter to black people. If they did,93% of all violent crime against black people wouldn’t exist! However, the fact that they will immediately come to the defense of a criminal who is killed by a white cop, doesn’t signify that black lives matter, it signifies that racism is alive and well…in the black community! They won’t hesitate to jump on a white police officer, yet there are many unarmed blacks who are shot by black officers as well. Yet that doesn’t seem to be as big of an issue to them, does it? It doesn’t seem to be an issue when several black children are killed in Chicago by other blacks every weekend. No, it only matters when a black person is killed by a white person. Thats racism. There isn’t massive outrage when black people kill white people, a much more overwhelming statistical truth. Because white people don’t look at it simply as a black person killing a white person, we look at it as a horrible tragedy, and don’t really factor in race. This article refers to the burings of police cars and twelve business, as “protesting and engageing in a justified rebellion.” Excuse me, justified? How is buring down buildings consided justified and a protest? No, it is shear violence for the sake of violence. It was an excuse to break the law and watch things burn. The true protestors where standing peacefully. I could go on and on picking this article apart, but I just don’t have the energy to respond to such garbage and irresponsible filth.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      “This article is a load of b.s.” despite the fact that there’s a great deal of data out there that supports her work.

      I’m very sorry that you think that the “black lives matter” slogan is, um, “crap.” I’m thinking about the black man killed in Walmart for carrying a toy gun that was sold in the store, and the black man choked to death by the NYPD, and a gazillon other questionable shootings of black men. Perhaps those lives don’t matter to you?

      Thank you for condescending to add at least a bit of your compassion and erudite knowledge to “garbage and filth.” I’m sure that many lives were healed for this great wisdom.

  10. Kathryn
    November 25, 2014

    Absolutely amazing article. I have always disliked when there is a “Black injustice” event that ALL the people they bring on, live to give their opinions are Black. I wish the media would change that. I, as a White woman would like to see people of my race talking out against Black racism.

    • Shari
      November 26, 2014

      Kathryn,

      Wake up! This article was so full of lies and assumptions that don’t at all follow the actual facts! I, as a white women, who has never had a racist bone in my body am totally disgusted by this entire article. It carries so many assumptions about white people… This whole incident has been used by race baiters and people with their own agendas including the communist party, black panther party, and other groups who could care less about Michael Brown or the lives of the people who live in Ferguson. They want to insight rage in people so they can cause any kind of anarchy… This article was so ridiculously insulting to anyone who follows the facts and not the emotional blubber that is thrown about to make people feel responsible for something that an 18 year old boy caused the day he chose to commit a strong arm robbery and then attack a police officer!

      Don’t encourage this idiotic woman to keep writing such drivel!

  11. Pingback: Ferguson highlight reel by Odio - TribalWar Forums

  12. jen
    November 25, 2014

    ^^ sadly Mr. Brown was not “simply minding his own business”. The cop was in the area because there were reports of a african american boy who had stolen things from a shop (Michael Brown). The cop called him over to his car to buy some time and Mr. Brown quickly became extremely defensive and punched the cop in the face twice. That was when the struggle for the gun arose and when things started going downhill. The race factor put aside, no child should steal from stores and certainly not reach for an officer’s gun. While his death is tragic, it was certaintly preventable had Mr. Brown made better decisions and thought about his actions before not using his common sense.

  13. CHRISTINE
    November 25, 2014

    SOCIAL MEDIA SUCKS!! and we never know the real truth! When do people start caring about now helping the family put this to rest and and allow them to grieve and move on!!!!

  14. Remhert
    November 25, 2014

    “Black people are dying and it’s not your personal fault that black people are dying because you’re white but if you don’t make a purposeful choice to become a white ally and actively work to dismantle the racist system running America for the benefit of white people then it becomes your shame because you are white and black lives matter.” That seems a little extreme. I haven’t personally given any money or tried to help the kurds, ebola victims, or even the Brazilian tribesman trying to protect the rainforest, but that doesn’t mean I hate kurds/support ISIS, am rooting for ebola, or want to destroy the rainforest. Saying that you are racist for not supporting something is like saying that you are a satanist if you aren’t christian,

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      I know that statement is provocative. Alas, unlike the other things that you and I aren’t supporting, Kurds, tribesman, etc., the racism is part of the system that we live in. Whites benefit enormously from this system, much of it legacy, but we still benefit. So I would say that working to end racism has a moral imperative that some other causes don’t (or to the same degree).

      To some extent it is a faith issue to believe that we would all benefit if our Constitutional and economic processes actually did work for all people. I believe we should try.

  15. Rachel
    November 25, 2014

    I appreciated your article, Janee, and shared on Facebook with your quote “What can I (white people) do that will matter in the fight against racism?”

  16. Beth
    November 25, 2014

    maybe you need facts before you assume. people like you help to perpetuate racism. A cop doing his job and protecting himself so he could go home to his family.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Well Beth, you might want to read up on what some law enforcement experts have said. There were ways for Wilson to de-escalate the situation and use different “tools” on this. To believe Wilson’s account, that went unchallenged by the Grand Jury, while ignoring more incriminating evidence, may indicate a certain amount of bias. Introducing his gun, rather than mace or baton (experts didn’t buy his excuse), and not driving off a small distance to regroup (a “strategic retreat”), are options that he had and didn’t use. Most of all, we don’t really know whether Michael was surrendering or charging, and that’s the difference between murder and self defense.

      No one asked Wilson if he contributed to ramping up the tension. I don’t think his own account really speaks well to that. Regardless, over the years, Ferguson Police had done plenty to ramp up tension between residents and police. And that is an issue that must be discussed and must be eliminated in every community.

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        He should have been carrying the taser that was assigned to him. He said it was too heavy. How heavy could it be if he’s sitting in a car? If necessary, he could have had it on his seat. If he suspected the two kids in the robbery, he should have called immediately for backup.

        This is likely less about race and more about a poorly trained or managed small town police department. And we know the rioting and looting had nothing to do with race.

  17. Rachel
    November 25, 2014

    I’m not sure how theft and attacking a police officer fall under “minding his own business”.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      If you believe exclusively Wilson’s version, without considering incriminating evidence, then you are showing real bias here.

      White teenagers shoplift and jaywalk all the time without getting killed. Given the culture and history of the Ferguson Police, is it so hard to believe that Wilson may well have contributed to ratcheting up the tension? We know that he didn’t use tools and strategies recommended by law enforcement experts to de-escalate the situation.

  18. Danielle
    November 25, 2014

    I didn’t speak up because he wasn’t a harmless little boy walking to his grandma’s. He did something wrong and all the REAL news states that.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      If you believe exclusively Wilson’s version, without considering incriminating evidence, then you are showing real bias here.

      White teenagers shoplift and jaywalk all the time without getting killed. We don’t know if Wilson escalated the situation, but we know he didn’t de-escalate it. And this can’t be separated from the cultural context and racist history of the Ferguson Police. To try to lift this out of that context is a special sort of White Privilege.

  19. richard
    November 25, 2014

    This whole case makes me sick first the media takes it and next thing you know its racism before all the facts are out no one cares to hear both sides of the story or bother to look at the facts but goes straight to racism i have been on both sides not being heard and the one accusing. But to top it all off they just rip up there town. I get there are racial tension there but now is the time this stuff stops both sides need not to be quick to jump to conclusions and look at the facts. Stop jumping straight to racism please.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Hello Richard. There is a ton of evidence of the very racist and predatory culture of the Ferguson Police. You can’t isolate this incident from that context. Or from the context of the other police killings of black men, the guy holding the toy gun at Walmart, the man choked by the NYPD, etc. When the cultural perception is that there’s no justice for black people, every incident has the potential for lighting the gasoline of long injustice.

  20. Erick
    November 25, 2014

    What vomit. The first sentence alone shows your biased ignorance. For crying out loud you make him sound like little red riding hood!! He’s on video commiting a strong arm robbery. One of many crimes this little piece of crap had already commit in his short little life. I didn’t bother wasting my time reading anymore of your uneducated stupidity so I’ll end my retort here.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Wow. What a lot of name calling! Obviously, a nerve has been struck. Let’s see, how often do white teenagers get killed for shoplifting and jaywalking?

      Your kindness and thoughtful response is a great model to show that racism really is dead.

  21. anon
    November 25, 2014

    Although there is good intentions here. This article is filled racist propaganda. It assumes that he is guilty and makes no consideration to the cop who feared for his life. Besides that, stereotyping whites as “ice bucket” focused completely discredits the author. What a racist remark! This article attempts to promote racial peace yet it profiles whites throughtout. Talk about two steps back.

    Don’t mess with cops and try to take their guns….white or black, you’ll get shot. And quite frankly, I am good with that.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Perhaps you believe that white teenagers who shoplift and jaywalk should also get killed? We don’t really have all the facts on the attack. Law enforcement experts believe that Wilson should have used a variety of tools before resorting to his gun, and they didn’t buy his excuses for not using them.

      Alas, perhaps it doesn’t matter to you whether Wilson escalated the situation, or whether Michael was surrendering when he was killed – that point was not cleared up by the Grand Jury, they just went with the exculpatory evidence, not the incriminating evidence, and that, my friend, is BIAS.

  22. JM
    November 25, 2014

    Your appeal to non-academics sounds very academic.

  23. Sean
    November 25, 2014

    1st of all who are you to right an article telling all white people what they think. I really don’t think you are qualified to speak on behalf of all white people in the same way that Al Sharpton is not qualified to speak on behalf of all black people(see Lil Wayne’s rant on Carter III). 2nd, for someone who tells white people to watch their language usage and to not use race so much in conversation you seem to hypocritically ignore your own suggestion by repeatedly referring to Mike Brown was a black teenager. In all honesty its 2014 color should not be an issue, in other words Mike Brown was a teenager not a black teenager and until all sides agree to treat people as people and to not see people a certain way based on skin we will continue to have this conversation, unfortunatly. Let me repeat until ALL sides agree, not just one side. And that is just one of the things that completely takes away all credibility of your article bc while you are making demands on how we(again generally grouping a mass of people)speak, you time and time again bring up race. Not only is it redundant its hypocritical. If you really think that we need to change our stance on race relations then how about you show by example instead of ordering. Be a leader don’t just expect people to change bc you said so. Give them a reason to change by example and leadership. Actions speak louder than words so to speak. Now all that being said my opinion on the Mike Brown situation is that the correct decision was made to not indict officer Wilson. I base it off of the simple fact that he put himself in that situation. Sure ofc. Wilson most likely profiled him(which is wrong) and may have had no credible reason to initiate the conversation in the first place. But here’s where he went wrong, when asked for ID he became extremely disrespectful and aggressive causing the officer to pursue the situation further. Then after approachinging the vehicle(this part is a bit sketchy bc it becomes inconsistent witnesses words against the officers) whatever happens, Mike Brown punches the officer repeatedly and after being warned that he will open fire, continues his assault against ofc. Wilson resulting in the shooting. Now sketchy or not the kid struck the officer repeatedly. In what world do you live in that you think he is not going to protect himself? I mean seriously put yourself in the officers shoes for a second, an adolescent who is physically bigger and stronger starts pounding away at you while ur still in ur vehicle. How do u react? And its easy for people to Monday morning qb this but when answering at least be honest with yourself about what u would do …now I also wanna be clear that ofc. Wilson most definitely could have handled the situation better resulting in any number of different outcomes but please understand that mike brown wasn’t the kid they show the pics of in the cap and gown, he was the kid that posted pics of himself brandishing a handgun and I feel that I can surmise that bc let’s face it what people put on their Facebook page is how they want to be perceived as by the world. So in conclusion, if you want to express your opinion about your perception that the decision to not indict ofc. Wilson was wrong, then by all means please do so. That is ur right as an American citizen. But in the future, when u right an article of this kind of sensitive nature, please do not stand up on ur soap box preaching about what white people as a whole need to do to improve race relations with blacks, when you yourself are guilty of the same kind of stereotyping and broad generalizations that your complaining about. It would make u actually look like a respectable journalist instead of a banking hypocrite. Thank you for your time and allowing me to express my OPINION as it is my right as an American citizen.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Seems to me that you could use about six more years of education with a focus on writing and critical thinking. Good luck with that.

  24. tanktronic
    November 25, 2014

    I was going to express disbelief at how out of touch with reality this was, then saw it was written back in August. Still, tremendously biased language, and complete prejudice that the officer was wrong without facts present yet. Now that they are, will there be an update?

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      It seems true enough to me. Perhaps she’d tweak it a little. But the Grand Jury failed to answer the major questions. Further, law enforcement experts believe that Wilson should have used a variety of tools before resorting to his gun, and they didn’t buy his excuses for not using them.

      The larger cultural issues hold true. We’ve had a grim year with other police killings of black men, the guy holding the toy gun at Walmart, the man choked by the NYPD, etc.

      • tanktronic
        November 30, 2014

        I agree the larger cultural issues hold true… I even wrote about it myself (http://www.tanktronic.com/ferguson/)… but I wrote of this very dichotomy that is weakening the case for people like yourself and the author – by taking an example that is, at best, dubious, you’re weakening your position. If I were to make a crusade against domestic violence by expressing outrage at a video clip of a husband playfully spanking his wife, you wouldn’t give me much attention, would you? And that’s the case here. Police racism and brutality are VERY real problems – but by trying to attach them to a case like Michael Brown, where assault of an officer is virtually proven, it’s hurting more than helping.
        In an effort to hold their position, folks are downright pretending that nothing questionable took place from Brown’s side here, and negating any chance for constructive discussion. If you want to engender a discussion that creates understanding and progress, perhaps start with “Look, Brown did something stupid and assaulted a cop, putting his life in danger….but after the first two shots of self-defense, why did Wilson fire ten more?” THAT is a way to begin a discussion of the inherent flaws and biases in Wilson and his department… not inflammatory shit like “white people don’t get killed for jaywalking”. We can do better.

    • Cynthia
      November 30, 2014

      Tanktroniec, this case is actually a very good one to look at bias. The crucial elements are unclear, and that practically makes it a Rorschach test. The most crucial question of whether Michael was charging or surrendering has not been determined, there was conflicting evidence and the physical evidence is not conclusive on this question. This question is the difference between murder and self defense. I don’t know the answer. The injustice is that the Grand Jury, that has a low threshold, didn’t figure it out and didn’t send it to trial where there would be more opportunity to get closer to the truth.

      The attack in the car happened, but how? Did Wilson ramp it up? Did Wilson pull his gun prematurely and Michael grabbed for it in self defense? We don’t know. We know that Wilson did not de-escalate the situation by either executing a strategic retreat or by using non lethal tools. The fact that he didn’t “like” carry a taser is inexcusable and unprofessional.

      This incident was the match that lit the gasoline that had been sitting for years. It may not be the “perfect” case in your eyes, but it is VERY revealing of bias, and that bias reveals the injustice.

      • tanktronic
        November 30, 2014

        The thing is, I’ve yet to see an alternate scenario laid out by anyone (your proposals are the closest to it i’ve seen in weeks of searching), much less one that even tangentially ties out to the forensics. It’s ironic you bring up the bias problem, because i agree, for the exact opposite reason. When Dorian Johnson (charged with filing a false report in 2011, btw) offered his account of “hands up”, the collective ire was raised, positions were staked, statements made…and now that more is known, no one is willing to back off their original stance, instead going to great lengths to twist what’s in front of them to fit a narrative they made months ago.

        Even if Wilson did pull a gun on Brown in the car window – in what situation is reaching for an officer’s weapon self-defense or de-escalating a situation? As for the charging/retreating issue, there is evidence of charging – Brown initially ran away eastward, then turned back westward toward Wilson. There is blood on the ground 25 feet east of where Brown’s body ended up. He must have turned back.

        Wilson could be an idiot and even a racist. His decision to shoot the final ten times could be based in ignorance, fear, or prejudice. Why can’t we talk about THAT, instead of pretending Brown didn’t do very stupid and very illegal things that led to his tragic demise?

      • Ferlin
        November 30, 2014

        It’s a classic case of a dimwit disobeying and challenging the direct orders of a law enforcement officer.

      • Cynthia
        November 30, 2014

        Ferlin wrote: “It’s a classic case of a dimwit disobeying and challenging the direct orders of a law enforcement officer.”

        Ferlin, that’s only true if you accept Wilson’s story as 100 percent true, and ignore the construction workers and others who testified that he was surrendering.

        I try to refrain from name calling, but Wilson is not the brightest bulb on the tree.

      • Ferlin
        November 30, 2014

        It is inarguable that Wilson told them to get out of the street. It is inarguable that there was an altercation with Brown partially inside the police car with a pistol discharging. With Wilson being the person in authority, only a simpleton would be in that situation with an armed police officer. The ONLY issue in question is whether Wilson could have done something other than what he did. It is inarguable that Brown engaged in idiotic behavior that lead to his death.

      • Cynthia
        November 30, 2014

        “It is inarguable…”

        Wilson was never cross examined. Did Wilson engage in provocative behavior that escalated the situation? We don’t know. We know that Wilson couldn’t be bothered to carry a taser, even in his car. We do know that he didn’t use all his tools or possibilities to de-escalate. Did Michael really grab for the gun while it was holstered? Really? Is Wilson right handed? Or did Wilson go for his gun because he got hit, totally unprovoked?

        This part of the story is unclear, unless you totally believe Wilson. I’m not so inclined to give him a pass. He could have executed a strategic retreat or used his other “tools.” He left his taser behind and went straight for the gun. We’re talking about human life. In other countries the cops don’t even carry guns so they have to be more creative, and live saving rather than life taking.

        Shoplifting and jaywalking by a teen should never have ended this way. Michael may have been acting like a particularly obnoxious teen that day, but we don’t know how idiotic Michael was vs. how idiotic Wilson may have acted.

        If you don’t give anyone a pass, then the conclusion is that we never really found out, and that isn’t justice. If the conclusion includes that it was really bad police work, how incompetent is criminally incompetent? That question never got answered, either.

      • Ferlin
        November 30, 2014

        “Did Wilson engage in provocative behavior that escalated the situation?”

        What could he have done that would warrant Brown struggling inside his car over a firearm? When a cop says jump, the only immediate response is how high.

  25. Anthony C.
    November 25, 2014

    “But an unarmed black teenager minding his own business walking down the street in broad daylight gets harassed and murdered by a white police officer and those same people seem to have nothing urgent to say about pervasive, systemic, deadly racism in America?”

    Can you clarify, Janee?

    By “unarmed black teenager minding his own business walking down the street” are you referring to Michael Brown – the teenager who just got done assaulting a store clerk and stealing cigars?

    If so, I’m glad I stopped reading exactly at that point because you no longer have any credibility no matter how many other valid points you might raise about the incident.

    • Whitney Raye Dunn
      November 26, 2014

      Wait… Valid points? You mean like the one she made about white people and how they created racism? Or the one about how whites perpetuate racism to the detriment of people of color for the benefit of whites… Whether they want to or not? Or how about when she said that the shame of a black man dying is all of ours (whites) to bear because “black lives matter?” (Suggesting American lives don’t, or matter less…?)

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Can you name instances where white teenagers got killed for shoplifting and jaywalking? Is you memory so short? We’ve had a grim year with other police killings of black men, the guy holding the toy gun at Walmart, the man choked by the NYPD, etc.

      Something is terribly wrong.

  26. Hithere
    November 25, 2014

    Walking to his grandmother’s house? He had just robbed a convenience store and assaulted the clerk behind the counter. The first line of your article discredits your entire argument.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Can you name instances where white teenagers got killed for shoplifting and jaywalking? Is you memory so short? We’ve had a grim year with other police killings of black men, the guy holding the toy gun at Walmart, the man choked by the NYPD, etc.

      Something is terribly wrong.

  27. Lee
    November 26, 2014

    It’s absolutely comical how brainwashed this writer is. I mean, hellooo, the facts are crystal clear now that he attacked the cop. And I’ll tell you this after 18 years as an ER Nurse, fists and feet can kill you!!!! I applaud the police officer for having the ability to protect himself as well as the poor citizen that this thug would have accosted down the road. Maybe it could have even been the dumb-ass that pinned this piece of garbage article!!!

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Can you name instances where white teenagers got killed for shoplifting and jaywalking? Law enforcement experts believe that Wilson should have used a variety of tools before resorting to his gun, and they didn’t buy his excuses for not using them. And Wilson may have escalated things… we don’t know. The Grand Jury didn’t really work out the main issues.

      I think it’s possible that name calling someone a “dumb ass,” especially when many of her points are supported by actual data, could be perceived as racist.

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        “I think it’s possible that name calling someone a “dumb ass,” especially when many of her points are supported by actual data, could be perceived as racist.”

        So now you’re a racist if you call someone a dumbass and they happen to be black? There are no black dumbasses, only white ones?

        You’ve been watching too much MSNBC.

  28. Pingback: Michael Brown, Righteousness, and the Post that Labels me a Racist | The Life and World of OSTBear

  29. vray
    November 26, 2014

    Good article from a singular point of view, though a bit arrogant and self-aggrandizing. It would have been more effective- or at least a lesson in humility- to follow it up with 15 things Black people could do to reclaim their communities. I’m not saying your article is not passionate, I’d just rate it as a very promising subject for an undergrad paper. And I’m not stating that it should be scholarly, but it reads as youthful and pretentious. You put the reader on the defensive with Rather than create what could have been a thought-provoking piece, you write statements like this (from #10):”,,,So you can be the popular person who stands with the oppressor or you can be the (maybe) unpopular person who stands for equality and dignity for all people. Which person would you prefer to be? And honestly, if some people don’t want to hang out with you anymore once you show yourself as a white ally then why would you even want to be friends with them anyway? They’re probably racists…”. Wow ! Where is YOUR humility as you exude Martin Luther King ?
    Quite honestly, who are you to challenge “white people” ? Exactly what are you challenging? Knowledge base ? Emotional responsiveness? Spiritual and moral integrity? What is your background and , more importantly, what is your bias’? I’m glad you paid attention in school and equally impressed you had such a radicalized education that you can spread your knowledge so evenly; but you failed to really delve into the very serious subject of race relations and once you took the bully pulpit, I lost interest in what could have been an admirable treatise.

    “…And, quite frankly, because white people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color….Black people are dying and it’s not your personal fault that black people are dying because you’re white but if you don’t make a purposeful choice to become a white ally and actively work to dismantle the racist system running America for the benefit of white people then it becomes your shame because you are white and black lives matter. And if you live your whole life and then die without making a purposeful choice to become a white ally then American racism becomes your legacy…”

    Aside from the obvious run-on sentence, why didn’t you just say: “The world would be better off without white people because they ruined it all and this could have been a utopian paradise with all people of color living in harmony and racism would not exist because white people invented it” I would suggest that if you travel the world a bit- or a bit more if you have. Read Malcolm X, before and after his trip to Mecca. Read about Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, Mary McLeod Bethune; understand W.E.B. DuBoise and contrast his views on race, the “Negro” condition, and Jim Crow with that of Booker T. Washington. That is just the beginning. Read, too, about Jefferson, Washington, Adams and the founders of this nation as well, and what their (future) expectations were of America. Now it is fashionable to dismiss them as “old white men” and worse, but don’t dismiss the brilliance of their oratory. Don’t see them as “white”, see them as human.

    I was raised in a “progressive” household, though it is probably very different than what you would view as progressive today. My family was involved in Civil Rights struggle, well before the ’60’s made it fashionable to do so. Our roots go back well over 200 years as both free and enslaved. Knowing family history is essential It was not mandatory that at our dinner table we discuss the days events, it was just expected. Giving back to the community was important, so becoming politically and socially involved was normal. Seeing Martin Luther King speak in 1963 as a child was one of the greatest events of my life. Working in the Poor People’s Campaign and staying in Resurrection City was a true lesson in humility and understanding the human condition. His assassination fractured the Civil Rights movement and causing a devolvement , and a rise of cult-of-personality figures.

    In conclusion, you have a passion for truth-telling, that’s obvious. But the points you present in this article are suggestive of “my way or highway, no room for argument or dialogue here” ruminations. That will cause people to resist and resent, rather than discuss. You do have salient points #2 in particular. Probably the most resented person from a black persons point of view is the “white liberal”. In the South, you may not have been loved for being you, but iyou knew where you stood and you took it from there. The North was, and to a certain degree still is, different. I believe the white allies you speak of are the upper-class, educated type. Some, without malice, truly believe that Blacks do have a built in knack for violence, over-breeding, and under-achieving. I’ve tolerated and taught many who still remain close friends. Remember, aging is the great equalizer. Continue to learn and refine. it does not come overnight. Open YOUR mind and know that you cannot change people in the way you want, or the way they don’t want to be. “White people” will have to do it themselves, but don’t look at them as any less than what they actually are- human beings. The same as you- no better, no worse. And I’m waiting to see you follow up with a post-verdict article. Peace.

  30. Joe
    November 26, 2014

    It’s a shame, anyone with the computer can called themselves a writer these days. Minding his own business you say? Do you watch the news? Or have you followed this case at all? Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the end of this article, but I can assume it ends just as it begins. You are completely clueless and it should be ilgeal you to write anything. No wonder you have to write under your own website, I’m assuming no one will publish your garbage.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Can you name instances where white teenagers got killed for shoplifting and jaywalking? Law enforcement experts believe that Wilson should have used a variety of tools before resorting to his gun, and they didn’t buy his excuses for not using them. And Wilson may have escalated things… we don’t know. The Grand Jury didn’t really work out the main issues.

      I don’t know if your White Privilege filter should make it illegal for you to write anything, but speaking as a white person, you are not doing yourself proud here.

  31. Stephanie Donaldson
    November 26, 2014

    So much of what you write is important and MATTERS! But I’m confused about your presentation of the Michael Brown series of events that allegedly occurred. Was he really just walking to his grandmother’s house? Didn’t he just commit a crime? Didn’t the police officer suffer injuries from an attack from Brown? Please don’t try to rally people with skewed facts.

  32. Lev Raphael
    November 26, 2014

    From the beginning, I’ve been blogging about it from a different angle, about the urgent issue of police militarization which finally broke out into the open in Ferguson. I think that this is something we need to talk about as much as endemic racism: our police forces are turning into small armies and we’re all at risk. That’s why I wrote my 25th book “Assault With a Deadly Lie”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lev-raphael/do-college-towns-really-n_b_5814944.html.

  33. ann shearon
    November 26, 2014

    This is a total mischaracterization of what happened that night. He had just ROBBED a store!! This is why things are nit going change! Take some responsibility. This kid didn’t deserve to die but he was NO angel. He would be alive if he had LISTENED to the cop. He roughed up a store owner and a cop. Teach your kids a little respect!

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Can you name instances where white teenagers got killed for shoplifting and jaywalking? Law enforcement experts believe that Wilson should have used a variety of tools before resorting to his gun, and they didn’t buy his excuses for not using them. And Wilson may have escalated things… we don’t know. The Grand Jury didn’t really work out the main issues.

      This incident can’t be isolated from the racist culture of the Ferguson Police Department. And Wilson’s account can’t be fully accepted as the whole truth.

      Sure, teach kids respect. But alas, black kids need to learn actual survival skills, and that makes their experience way different from white kids.

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        Stop spamming the discussion with the same paragraph over and over, asshole.

  34. Eric
    November 26, 2014

    Stop referring to Brown as a teenage boy. Read the autopsy- he was 6’5″ and 289 pounds at the time of his death. He had off the charts levels of THC metabolites, which means he was high enough to be paranoid, and I say that as someone who thinks pot should be legal.

    When the facts of something cease to matter you have to ask yourself why. There’s an element of the political left that seems addicted to the narrative of the racist white guy gunning down the helpless black person. The “teenager” props up that narrative and will continue to do so because teenage males of all colors are statistically more violent and rebellious, and some of them will need to be shot by police officers.

    And the number of times those teenagers beat someone to death with their bare hands and feet won’t make one bit of difference to the narrative, “because feels”.

  35. Debra Mason
    November 26, 2014

    What an excellent article. I have nothing to add except — how can anyone think it is okay to shoot a 18 year old who may have just committed a crime, stole a box of cigars when white men raped this country, caused a recession that went global, people lost their jobs, their homes, their dignity and no one went to jail. Not only did they not go to jail , no charges were ever brought–nor will their ever be any charges.

    A black teenager or young man steals a box of cigars and is brutally murdered and his body left on the streets for 4 hours. Not shot once but an unarmed teenager who was shot multiple times and left laying in the streets. Ferguson is a reflection of what white American thinks of Black folks, in particular what they think of Black men.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      That’s perspective, indeed. Thank you.

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        These white men didn’t physically assault an armed police office, Einstein.

  36. Johnny Holiday
    November 26, 2014

    All I can say is get your facts straight before posting an article such as this. You make yourself appear ignorant. “Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow?” Really? First off, regardless of the skin color, if the person did not commit a felony they would not be in prison. Second, all felons, upon release, are unable to vote and have other rights stripped from them. They are NOT denied access to housing, employment, or education. If the employer does not want to hire a felon, then that is their prerogative. Same goes with landlords and their decision to rent or lease to a felon, but even a felon can live in section 8 housing. And as far as education goes, it is there for EVERYONE who has the desire to learn. If the released felon chooses not to educate him/herself then that is their choice. The opportunity to get a degree is always there for the person who has the motivation to earn it.

    The rest of the article is complete bs. You try to paint a pretty picture by telling us that Michael Brown was minding his own business while walking to his grandma’s house. This teenager was not an innocent child. He had just robbed a store and for what? A box of cigarillos? He used his size to strong-arm the store clerk. Face it, this guy was a thug plain and simple.

    Many of these people who claim the officer is racist usually use the ‘R’ word at the drop of a dime. They need to take responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming “the white officer,” “the white landlord,”, or “the white .” I live 12 miles from Ferguson and I can honestly say that many people from the black community use the word racist an awful lot. It seems to be the catch-all word to get try to get their way. They blame the white community for holding them back but if they took a good look at their lives they would see that they are holding themselves back. “I didn’t go to college because the college is racist.” “I couldn’t get a car loan because the bank is racist.” “I got pregnant at the age of 15 because of racism.” Start accepting responsibility for your own actions.

    It’s people like you who fan the fires of anger with words of half-truths. You’e words here are based on ignorance of what really went on and not on the facts. The officer has the right to protect himself when ANYONE reaches into his vehicle. Since when does it become racist for an officer to ask someone to not walk in the middle of the street? The officer was doing his job. One final thought for you, instead of the black community saying “Black lives matter,” why don’t they say “ALL lives matter?”

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Hm. Guess you’ve never heard of the “school to prison pipeline?” Or noticed that black people tend to get much stiffer sentences for the same crimes as whites?

      Can you name instances where white teenagers got killed for shoplifting and jaywalking? Law enforcement experts believe that Wilson should have used a variety of tools before resorting to his gun, and they didn’t buy his excuses for not using them. And Wilson may have escalated things… we don’t know. The Grand Jury didn’t really work out the main issues.

      I agree that there are dialogues that blacks need to have amongst themselves, just as there are dialogues we whites need to have amongst ourselves. But we can’t ignore the data of injustice and inequality, nor the predatory behavior of the Ferguson Police Department. There is a great deal of systematic racism, and there’s a lot of bad stuff that happens from lack of opportunity.

      As for “Black lives Matter,” I note that we’ve had a grim year with other police killings of black men, the guy holding the toy gun at Walmart, the man choked by the NYPD, etc.

      Something is terribly wrong and needs addressing. It seems to me that you are pretty hard hitting on the messenger without offering anything positive. In fact, the stereotyping seems potentially, um, racist.

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        Why do you keep cutting and pating the same crap?

  37. Mel
    November 26, 2014

    This is just utterly ridiculous….”unarmed, black kid doing nothing walking to grandma’s house gets gunned down.” Riiiiiiiiight…..sure, he didn’t just commit theft and assault…no, no, let’s not let facts get in the way of your racist bullshit.

    Bottom-line is hundreds upon hundreds of blacks get gunned down all live-long day by other blacks. Your true focus should be on that. If you spent the same energy focusing on THE ROOT cause of the utter failures of the black community and actually trying to make a difference than writing this atrocious article, perhaps your “activism” would be worth a shit.

    • Mel
      November 26, 2014

      Oh, it should be noted I’m a minority…I’m a hispanic (was born and immigrated to this country) female.

      Since you’re so hell-bent on using such a broad brush to paint all minorities. And I’m not sure what “latino-american” friends you have, but I have plenty, and they all feel the same as I do….the majority of the black community is dire-straights and it has NOTHING to do with some white cop killing some shitty, thug kid.

    • Whitney Raye Dunn
      November 26, 2014

      There was a young man shot and killed yesterday around 1700 hrs in a 7/11 parking lot. His name was Dylan Taylor, he was twenty years old, and just a few months away from becoming a father. He was unarmed, and had not committed any crimes before he was gunned down by a South Salt Lake Police Officer. He was white. Where are all of the angry cries for equality and civil rights for him? For his family? His child? Would we, as bystanders and Rubbernecks, be justified by burning the State Court building and causing thousands in damages, costing people their cars, jobe- possibly THIER LIVEST IN THE NAME OFBPROTEST??? Who’s fault is it this time? Should we blame African Americans? Muslims? How about those in SLC who practice Judaism? I for one seem to think that its downright wrong that the obvious question has not yet been answered, nor was it even asked… And that is- WHO THE FUCK GAVE AMERICAN POLICE OFFICERS THE RIGHT TO RUN AROUND SHOOTING EVERYONE ALL WILLE NILLIE WITHOUT ANY CONSEQUENCES?! All those tax dollars were well spent in the development and issuance of non lethal weaponry like the tazer, which wasn’t even brought out in this particular incident, nor in Brown’s case. The problem is definitely not racism… Its our Police Force. By the way… I believe the word you were searching for was “alliance”

  38. Jimena
    November 26, 2014

    OK, for the first time in my life I can honestly say I’m feeling “white shame” – over the comments being left on this article.

    No, Mike Brown was no angel. But neither was he a lawless thug who deserved to die. Wilson will never have a trial so we’ll never know whether his (problematic) version of events was true or whether Brown really did nothing more than push a storekeeper and get uppity with a cop. There was a lot of conflicting evidence that should have been hashed out at a trial, and now it won’t be.

    And God, the comments here, the hatred and lack of understanding and compassion, the sheer blindness to the reality lived by so many members of our own society…

    This is the type of thing that, God willing, will someday be every bit as incomprehensible as segregated schooling is to us. I devoutly hope that some day my grandkids can look at comments like this and ask, “Seriously? People actually said that, and believed it?! HOW??!”

    • stephen matlock
      November 26, 2014

      This is an attempted reply to Jimena–

      Thanks for your posting. Something about the discussion of black deaths by the hands of white cops enrages many white people to the point they can’t think clearly.

      I cannot imagine what it is like to be the subject of such vitriol. It would be hard to carry on knowing that nearly every single response of the people you are trying to reach is going to be based upon misunderstanding. I am glad that there are people who still try to do so.

      • Whitney Raye Dunn
        November 26, 2014

        The problem is that this young lady is the one experiencing the misunderstanding… And so are you. It is not my shame to bear when a black guy gets shot for not obeying the law. Are you here to tell everyone that this is somehow linked to the creation of racism by white people? Are you personally contributing to the racist culture developed and maintained by whites to the detriment of people of color for the benefit of whites? Do you feel that the “protesters” were justified in rioting (excuse me, “rebelling”…) Which caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages… Cost people their cars, businesses, jobs and in a few cases their LIVES? Is it your belief that crushing white guilt is what prevents white people from doing more to abolish racism??? The problem here is not civil rights or racism. An american man was shot and killed after he disobeyed the law. The problem is in fact, a major misunderstanding, and its on your part, the writer’s part, and every one else’s who segregate tragedies based on race.

    • Ferlin
      November 26, 2014

      It doesn’t matter which one of the stories is true or if the truth is somewhere in between. The main point is that he is dead regardless of who is to blame. The death could have been avoided in two ways:

      1. When a cop tells you to do something, do it. Shut your mouth and do it.

      2. Every police officer should be equipped with a disabling taser as accessible as his or her pistol.

      Don’t provoke and don’t use deadly force when you don’t have to.

      Problem solved.

      • Cynthia
        November 29, 2014

        Thank you for calling my messages “spam”, I’m hoping that the messages get to the people who wrote them.

        There are complex layers of problems in this whole incident. For one thing, we didn’t really get the whole truth from the Grand Jury, and that’s most unfortunate.

        Your lesson number 1 sounds great. The suspicion, however, is caused by the long history of racist culture in the Ferguson Police. It seems so nice for comfortable people to just look at the “facts” of this one case and call it open and shut. Alas, did Wilson escalate the situation? I found in the videos of the protests/riots/uprising that many police were making remarks and gestures that were provocative, rather than peace making. Given this, I am very hard pressed to give Wilson the benefit of the doubt.

        Also, regardless, the incident brings up a lot of problems that need addressing.

        I agree with your number 2. Wilson’s protestation of not carrying it because it was “uncomfortable” just seems unprofessional, at the very least.

        Thank you again for calling me an ass-hole, that tells me a lot about whether to take a person seriously or not. Alas, I have a lot of mixed culture experiences and its time for me to speak up for the vulnerable. Ms. Woods did warn me that there would be push back from some people. “Ass-hole” about sums that up. You proved her right. Good job!

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        You keep copying the exact same paragraphs over and over. That’s spamming. The citizens of Ferguson should work to change their city council and police department. The majority of the city is black. Run for office. Change things. Stop playing the victim and DO something other than inviting in outside disruptive race baiters like Al Sharpton.

      • Cynthia
        November 29, 2014

        Ferlin, I can’t reply directly to some of your criticisms, so I’ll do it here. Of course Ferguson citizens should get together and work on issues of improving their community. Hourly, minimum wage jobs don’t leave a lot of time for that, but yes, they should do it.

        The data show an incredible amount of injustice in our “Justice System. Innocent blacks on Death Row being released when DNA evidence proves them innocent, etc. Unequal sentences for similar crimes. Police acting with impunity and never being held accountable (and know that abuse has happened to whites as well, just not in the overwhelming numbers).

        You call it victimhood and race baiting. But really, what do you propose as a positive solution? You are asking Ferguson residents to rise above their poverty and be much more politically active than most whites are. Sure, that should happen. In the larger picture, they are a minority, so getting the political will for reform isn’t going to happen without white allies. Whites, in large numbers, need a lot of education to understand that there is a problem, that there are viable solutions, and that we need to act together to make those happen.

        The economic problems of inequality and intergenerational poverty are really tough. I know from my experience in Haiti that you can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no bootstraps. Don’t you think that some compassion and generosity may be needed to help provide the bootstraps? This might not be exclusively race, but there seems to be a harsher impact of this in black poverty.

        What are your solutions besides shooting me down? There are micro, middle, and macro levels here.

      • Ferlin
        November 29, 2014

        “Hourly, minimum wage jobs don’t leave a lot of time for that, but yes, they should do it.”

        There are many black business owners in Ferguson. The rest of your post sounds like Rev. Sharpton and white do-gooders…black people are helpless without white people helping them. Well the mobilization of black voters elected a black president. People can accomplish things when they refuse to be victims.

      • Cynthia
        November 29, 2014

        P.S. I don’t watch MSNBC. I don’t watch cable news at all.

        I’m very glad to see that you wrote that Wilson should have had his taser.

        I’m eager to see what you have to say about solutions to the larger issues.

      • Cynthia
        November 29, 2014

        “The rest of your post sounds like Rev. Sharpton and white do-gooders…black people are helpless without white people helping them.” Then on to getting Obama elected…

        Urgh. So much presumption. Sharpton isn’t always wrong and we could use more do-gooders, usually.

        The Obama analogy of yours is very good to a point, but it conflicts with your “helpless” comment. Obama got elected because there were enough white people who signed on to his agenda, particularly white women, actually. So it isn’t that blacks are “helpless,” but it is true that they can’t move an agenda at a state or national level without a certain amount of white support. Sounds to me like their best chances are still with white women…

        Locally, you have a point that there are black business people. It would be great if some leadership pulled them together, along with other stakeholders, to come up with solutions. Perhaps that will be the legacy of all this.

        Interestingly enough, while I’m not going to agree with you that race wasn’t part of it, you had very interesting comments about police methods and tactics. Again, here is a really, really great point of commonality. If the police have good methods, tactics, and training, perhaps it doesn’t matter so much if some are racist, as long as they do their job correctly, professionally, and regardless of race. Simply because that’s their job.

        So we almost agree on three things. I think that’s pretty good for one day. Cheers, peace, and blessings on you and yours.

    • veganelder
      November 27, 2014

      Well said Jimena. Thank you, and I agree totally. And thank you Ms. Woods for speaking out.

  39. F4
    November 26, 2014

    I’m sorry but I… I just can’t.

    1 – Peaceful assembly does not include looting, burning, intimidation, and now at least 3 supposed deaths I’ve heard about.

    2 – “Michael Brown was a good kid, by accounts of those who knew him during his short life.” except the store owner he roughed up 5 minutes earlier during a daytime robbery. Also, this: http://beforeitsnews.com/…/b1c1b63315f7c7f7932f38d4367a…

    “This kid didn’t deserve to die because he was a human being…” YES!!! Finally getting away from the adjectives. “… “and black lives matter.” NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Damnit. One step forward followed by a most elegant faceplant.

    3 – Revolting against the police involves burning down buildings that have nothing to do with police? Here’s a short list of places in Ferguson where people are unable to earn a living for their families at the moment due to “protests”:

    A.J. & R. Pawn Shop
    Amoco
    Antonio French’s Heal Stl Community Center
    AT&T
    Auto Buy Credit
    Auto Zone
    Beauty Mart
    Beauty Town
    Cakes and More [Natalie DuBose’s store]
    Chop Suey restaurant
    Commerce Bank
    Conoco
    CVS
    Dellwood Market
    Dollar Tree
    Family Dollar
    FedEx
    Ferguson Liquor
    JC Wireless
    Little Caesar’s
    McDonald’s
    Medicine Shop
    O’Reilly’s Auto Parts
    Phillips 66
    Public Storage
    Quiznos
    Red’s Barbecue
    Sam’s Meat Market
    St. Louis Fish & Chicken Grill
    STL Bread Company
    Taco Bell
    TitleMax
    Toys R Us
    Walgreens

    Did I mention burning things?

    4 – People in jail are an economic drain on society, whereas slaves performed tasks that increased overall economic output. The only people who benefit here are the 4% of prisons that are private corporations. “Rich white folk” don’t want to pay the extra taxes to keep ANY people in a cage any more than the rest of us do.

    Actual example of slavery? How about the political faction that offers you food and shelter (at someone else’s expense) in exchange for your unyielding defense of their policies and a reliable bumper-crop of uninformed votes?

    5 – No.

    6 – If you’re picking your media outlets based on a skin color, that’s racist. Like… by definition.

    7 – Yay! Nonviolence!

    8 – Stop it with the adjectives!

    9 – Let’s use ancient systems of control revolving around fear and mysticism to gather support for our cause! That sounds like something that will totally combat ignorance…

    10 – Because every time something bad happens to a person who isn’t stark white, you assholes scream racism at the top of your lungs. It’s annoying. It’s hurting your cause. You’ve gone too far. Stop.

    11 – Being proactive in your community = good. Making it about skin color = missing the point.

    12 – Most people gave up in 1964 with the civil rights act. That bandage was slapped on and everyone went home claiming victory. In reality, that wound has festered with resentment caused by policies like affirmative action. You need positive social action and to stop seeing people as a skin color before it can heal.

    —-
    The sickness isn’t racism, that’s just one symptom of ignorance. And groups attacking the symptom are only drugging us for the pain.

    • Stephen
      November 26, 2014

      I keep coming back to this educational film for young black men.

  40. Amy
    November 26, 2014

    Categorizing white people as not “discussing” racial tension is a prejudice in of itself. The reason why people make comments on Robin Williams passing is because he was a respectful human being that contributed to society in a positive way. And the reason why people posted so much for the ALS challenge was to raise awareness and funds towards a horrible debilitating disease. The only issue behind Michael Brown was that he was not obeying the law which needs to be respected in our society. If you steal, charge after and try to grab a Police Officer’s gun, you will get shot at. Respect and abide the law. I see no race issue in this at all. It’s a known fact that most African Americans are shooting and killing other African Americans. Why hasn’t it ever been such a big deal when this happens? Which is a daily occasion. Somehow this has all blown up into a racial thing…mostly by media. This is why your view of whites not making comments is not happening. It’s about a young man that did not obey the officer’s warnings and the laws of which this country was built on.

  41. Whitney Raye Dunn
    November 26, 2014

    Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me? “Allyship”…? You need to help yourself to a fucking dictionary, because you sound like a goddamned moron. Your article is a savage hypocrisy. White people are not afraid to take action against racism in America because of white guilt… Maybe they’re just sick and fucking tired of it, because… Like you said, we’re 400 years into this shit storm, and its been quite a while since The Emancipation Proclamation. The notion that white people created racism is pure ignorance on your part. Have you ever hears of the things happening in the middle east? Thatvwar has been going on since before paper existed… And its purely based on racial and religious differences.

  42. tingleyspice
    November 26, 2014

    First of all, I choose not to post anything on Facebook because I am not educated on this issue enough to have a passionate opinion. I’m not scared, racist, or non-academic. The Michael Brown debate? Why does it have to be an issue about race? Who ever said it was a race issue? ONE person is shot by a police officer and all of a sudden it’s about what race he was? Perfect example of people jumping to conclusions. Were you there? Did you see him “walking down the street minding his own business?” Also, tell me how torching a police officer’s car, vandalizing businesses, and setting things on fire are “peaceful” examples of striking down prejudice. Did Martin Luther King JR protest this way? Yeah, they seem really educated on the history of “racialized” America.

    It shouldn’t matter whether you’re a white, black, purple, or yellow polka dot ally. Why do you have to educate only white people on how to be an advocate of this issue? I don’t want to be an ally and I don’t want to be an enemy.

    The media exaggerates any issue that ever occurres EVER. Are we surprised?

    Don’t try to tell me how to support this when questions like this exist. When my questions, along with everyone else’s, are answered, then I’ll consider becoming an ally.

    • Ferlin
      November 28, 2014

      This is more about proper police tactics than race. In October an unarmed 18 year old WHITE college student was shot and killed by a BLACK police officer. The kid was acting crazy and on LSD. The cop had a baton and mace but chose to shoot him. Where is the racial outrage, rioting and looting? Where is Rev. Al?

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/university-of-south-alabama-gil-collar/

      • Cynthia
        November 29, 2014

        This needs looking at too. The data about injustice is overwhelming against blacks. Alas, it seems as if the militarization of the police and more aggressive tactics are impacting everyone. In the wake of this, more stories of police abuse of all stripes are coming out. A white father getting tased (I don’t know how to spell that) when he tries to tell a cop that his son has autism…

        Ferlin, maybe this is a place where we can all come together.

        I think most cops are good people and awesome heroes. It’s systems, cultures, and police policies and tactics that need a good looking over. And it needs to be reasonable, fair, and just for ALL.

  43. threefutures1
    November 26, 2014

    Okay, this is one of the most pathetic attempts at justifying behavior I’ve ever heard. It’s follows a post I did earlier which is not going to allow the blamers of the world to treat others as if their self righteous behavior is okay. He was unarmed but punching a police officer in the face. If a giant man, who is showing very aggressive behavior is assaulting a cop thinks it’s okay to do so, then he would also have no problem killing that officer to justify that behavior.

    Here is my original post.

    Attention thugs and pathetic bullies of Ferguson! I’m so sick of the actual racists who are the ones out committing crimes against INNOCENT people because they are to ignorant to listen to the facts and they want to live their lives on uneducated beliefs about what they think is right. Wake up you racist pigs who eat the slop your news media is feeding you and that you are feeding each other.

    You hate the cops until you want their help. You are lazy, hateful, and want to take the law into your horribly unqualified hands with your sick, poisoned and uninformed minds.

    How dare any of you, if you do, call yourselves God fearing Christians, when you want to play God yourselves and judge others without taking one hard look at your own actions.

    Stop being self righteous and thinking the world owes you anything. If you want this world to be different, then start being different.

    To all those citizens who are standing by while your neighborhoods are destroyed by this plague of demons dressed in plain clothes, it’s time to stand up. It’s time to protest against the facilitators of hate, and crime, and racism that is destroying your image. Don’t sit quietly by, allowing these destroyers of good to run your lives. Protest against the actual wrong doers and stand with your police, fire fighters, and fellow citizens who want to actually serve the people.

    If you don’t do anything to stop this disease from spreading through your area, you too will be the victim of the hate and evil of your neighbor who doesn’t care about right and wrong. They only care about being right, even when they are obviously wrong, and they will fight to your death to prove it!

    I’m so sorry to the people who have love, respect, and admiration in your hearts for the men and women who would risk their lives in a heart beat to save your life. Imagine, going to work every day, knowing you need to put your own fear aside, in order to save the life of someone who in their heart may have nothing but hate for you. But you do It, because you swore an oath to protect and serve.

    How about swearing your own oath, to help protect and serve the brave men and women who leave their own families every day to go out and save the life of yours in exchange for their own. Step up, and pick yourself up from this victimized way of life by those who say they are on your side. Your fellow neighbor, who would let you die to save their own image is not on your side. Your men and women in blue are!

    Show the world that you stand with these brave souls who give their fate up to God and actually fear Him, because He is the only one who can judge another human properly.

    Stop playing God, you thugs, thieves, arsonists, and demon inspired evil souls who will be judged by God Himself. I pray for you because you know not what you do. You need to spend more time bettering your own lives instead of destroying the lives of others.

    May God bless your souls, may Jesus give you forgiveness, may the holy spirit be upon you as you enter into this, the season of grace, joy, and hope.

    Your future is in your hands Ferguson!

  44. Lazy Mouse
    November 26, 2014

    Or… You could just realize that this kid was a scumbag, attacked a cop, and got himself lit up for the trouble. After that, I suggest you then shrug your shoulders, say to yourself “Man… I’m not going to be THAT stupid”, and go about your life. It has nothing to do with race.

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Really? It’s all that simple? What about the guy holding the toy gun at Walmart? What about the fact that Ferguson Police funded 90 percent of their city budget by harassing its citizens, hourly wage earners, with traffic stops, creating a predatory situation? What about the FP’s long history of abuse. That doesn’t matter?

      We’re not clear on whether Wilson escalated the situation, we do know he didn’t use all means to de-escalate it. Whose the adult and the professional in this situation?

  45. Alexander Popivker
    November 26, 2014

    There are certainly problems of racism in America. There are problems with racism and discrimination probably everywhere in the world. Different races, different types of discrimination… These are certainly problems that have to be dealt with. However, demonizing the police force which is made up of people who risk their lives on daily bases as if they are always abusing their power and constantly profile by race is a red herring to the real problems. There is certainly abuse of power and racial profiling. They exist but they do not define the police force. To make such claims as the author insinuates is just a different type of bigotry. This article paints Mike Brown as an innocent victim going to visit his grandmother… There is no mention of videotape violent robbery moments before that the officer came to investigate. There is no mention of the evidence that supports the testimony of the officer that Mike Brown attacked him in his car, blocked the door and kept beating the officer who was in danger for his life and had to protect himself. There is no mention of the fact that instead of stepping back when he was warned by the officer before shooting he tried to wrestle the gun from the officer as the shots within the car support. There is no mention of the account of the officer that Mike Brown wouldn’t stop trying to attack the officer. Mike Brown was not an innocent victim according to the testimony and the evidence. He was a criminal. I think it doesn’t serve the cause of confronting problems of racism to demonize someone else. Especially when the due process evidently points to the innocence of the officer. In addition to dealing with problems of racism we should also confront problems of mentality of violence that pervades many communities. Glorification of guns and violence are at least as much to blame for these incidents as stereotypes and prejudices. There is two sides to every coin. Only by confronting both sides can progress be made.

  46. Dindu Nudffin with Muffins
    November 27, 2014

    You literally made the entirety of the Internet more dumberer and that is a hell of an accomplishment considering the postings at democraticunderground.com

    • Cynthia
      November 29, 2014

      Brilliant! What’s in your muffins?

  47. snuffkin
    November 27, 2014

    I’m terribly lost. Can anyone enlighten me if this post is supposed to be sarcastic or is this lady dead serious?

  48. a
    November 27, 2014

    Perhaps you didn’t see white people posting because he wasn’t “gunned down” he was shot while attacking an officer. Or perhaps because he wasn’t “on his way to his grandmas house”, he was leaving the store he robbed. Or perhaps it was a number of other reasons that made any rational person not post anything. I hope that since all of the facts are now out that I see you in fact post something about how wrong you were and about what a disgrace it was that anybody posted in the first place. Do you not see that people like you are making the race gap bigger, not smaller?

  49. Amy G
    November 27, 2014

    I’d love to read something written by Janee Woods now that the truth has come out about this case. Clearly, this was written without the FACTS! You are a HUGE part of the problem Janee Woods!

  50. John Durbin
    November 27, 2014

    Good article. Although I already do most of the things listed and more, I could always use more validation. I couldn’t agree more with the fact that the main proponent of racism is white people’s lack of understanding what it is and how the perpetuate it. It is definitely going to be a long journey as made clear by all of these comments. Thanks for writing and posting.

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