Below is a post from Tammy Thomas Miles, Field Organizer with CCC —
Each year at Thanksgiving I often take the time to reflect on all the things which I am thankful. This year, as I prepared to offer my own reflections to my family, I was reminded that just 10 weeks earlier I was in the City of Ferguson, Missouri, standing in solidarity with a community and a nation that was in deep pain (and revolt) over the killing of Michael Brown. As we convened this year around the Thanksgiving table, I found myself feeling more tense, full of anguish and less hopeful.
Just two days prior to this time of giving thanks and breaking bread, a grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson for what to me was the public execution of Michael Brown. Like many people in my circle and beyond, I wasn’t surprised by their decision; but I was very angered and disappointed. The flagrant lack of value placed on black lives in this country is sickening. I am the daughter of a black man, the mother of a black son, the sister and auntie of black brothers and black boys, all who have come up in communities of color tarnished by inequities. Why is it ok for communities that resemble Ferguson, Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio to have poor school systems, double digit unemployment amongst Blacks?
Someone please tell me why the lives of Michael Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin don’t deserve justice? President Obama said “There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America, there’s the United States of America.” I think the ideology is right, but I also know that in this country some people are deemed to be worth more than others. If you are poor, black or brown it seems as though your life isn’t as valuable as others.
Many folks are coming to realize that Ferguson is a manifestation of race relations in America. Sunday morning on Meet the Press Chuck Todd made this point clear citing that household income for African Americans is just $35,000 a year–$25,000 less than the household income for whites. White unemployment was 4.8% last month. Black unemployment was more than double that amount at 10.9%. In other words, the economic disparities in Ferguson had long since created an atmosphere of deep inequity, mistrust, and oppression. Black men are more than six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated; and finally black men between the ages of 15 and 19 are 21 times as likely as whites to be killed by a police officer. Until we place equal and even greater value on communities of color and the lives of black and brown people in America, nothing will change.
The fact that non-violent demonstrations have been conducted in over 140 cities all over the country says that Ferguson is not unique. It is a sign that people are feeling the pain of this moment and fed up with this country’s inability and unwillingness to live up to its own professed creed. Perhaps enough people have had enough, and as a consequence they are ready to prick the consciousness of America so that she finally acknowledges that race is embedded in our institutions—and its killing us—some of us literally.
People are frustrated, but they are ready for a new movement. It’s evident in the actions that have taken place in Ferguson and beyond. We have to continue to lift our voices and tell our stories. We have to develop policies that erase the inequities in our justice, health care, education, and economic systems. We have to vote and elect representatives that aren’t afraid to represent us. We have to value the lives of poor people, the lives of black and brown people. We have to build an economy that works for all people and not just some. We have to seek and achieve a kind of justice that rolls down like a mighty stream. We have to stop police brutality and prevent more senseless deaths. We have to leave a legacy for our future generations and move towards healing.
I will continue to pray for the families of all the Mike Browns and cities like Ferguson around this country. Most of all I will pray to see an America that is for all of its people, by all of its people. After I rise from my knees in prayer I will take action. I invite you to do the same. Lead an action, join a protest, let the people in Ferguson and all around the country that you are in solidarity with them. Justice will come, it must come—now—and we will be a part of making it so.
Don’t know where to go? Don’t know what to do? Learn more at FergusonAction.org
Hope to see you out there.