This isn’t about Michael Brown1. Or rather, it isn’t about just Michael Brown. It certainly isn’t about only this Michael Brown. It’s about race, power and a system that just affirmed itself.
It’s about anger at a system which has trained the powerless to accept their lack of power over and over again. It’s about anger at a system, that despite the promises of the civil rights era, has only affirmed the status quo: some lives are worth more than others. Some people will always get punished more harshly than others.
It’s about anger that those who are the most underprivileged, the most disenfranchised continue to be subjugated under the guise of the best system in the world.
It’s about anger that the ethnic majority has historically viewed and continues to view minorities as dangerous and frightening. It’s about anger that the majority is doing its best to clutch onto its slipping grasp through intimidation and fear.
Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, like many, many others have been shot and killed by police officers. Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted or charged for that shooting like an overwhelming number of police officers haven’t been charged. While whites are certainly victims of police brutality, minorities are overwhelmingly so.
The anger is because it seems that Michael Brown was shot because of his race – and that doesn’t mean Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown specifically because Michael Brown was black. Rather, Wilson shot Brown because of what he believed about black people; what we’ve all read and heard about black people; what we’ve all been conditioned to realize about black people; what popular media regularly portrayed black people as.
So when he stopped, I stopped. And then he starts to turn around, I tell him to get on the ground, get on the ground.
He turns, and when he looked at me, he made like a grunting, like aggravated sound and he starts, he turns and he’s coming back towards me. His first step is coming towards me, he kind of does like a stutter step to start running. When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me.
At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.
And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way.
Like an animal. Michael Brown was an animal to Darren Wilson.
That’s what this anger is about. That this non-indictment exposed the gaping race chasm in America: white people love police and authority when it comes to maintaining the social order. That social order is fairly simple: there are the whites who can do whatever they want, then there are the “criminals” and the “minorities” and the “gays”, except those that act like the white people. The system exists to contain the teeming masses of minorities/criminals and to keep them in check. If a black man is killed by a police officer, well that’s his fault.
As I’ve written before, for White America, the police force exists as a private security force, to keep them and their belongings safe and secure and separate from the uncouth, uncivilized and dirty Blacks and Hispanics. (Here’s another must-read on the subject from The Atlantic.)
For the rest of America, the police force is sadly nothing but an oppressor acting with the imprimatur of the greatest Democracy in the World.
That’s what this anger is about. It’s about the death of one boy, for sure, but it’s also about the death of the right to be free and the right to be equal in America.
It’s about the death of Dr. King’s dream.