Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959 (via purplebuddhaproject)
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I have not said much on Facebook about Ferguson and the upsetting and reckless murder of Michael Brown. Personally, I have been reading a lot of what everyone has been saying, but I have been too heart-wrenched on the matter to engage in all of the debates that are popping up each hour about the event. I know what I think, and I am so so saddened, and I haven’t really wanted to debate and argue about it. However, I have seen something said multiple times now, and I have to say something about it. There seems to be a movement of focus onto the white police officers in ferguson, as people discuss their intentions and if they are, or are not, racist, etc. I finally commented on a discussion thread that had moved in this direction a bit ago, and I would like to post what I wrote below:
The point is not to defend the officers, who I am sure work hard at their jobs and believe they are doing what they need to do. Their individual integrity isn’t really the purpose nor the reason that this event in our american history has so much import. The point is that police officers in this country are in a consistent position of power over people and that this power is consistently, all over the country, utilized to criminalize, arrest, manipulate, man-handle and KILL BLACK HUMAN BEINGS. Period. This is fact. Whether or not this is the INTENT behind the actions of each officer, this is the system that they operate within and the power that they hold. This means that we MUST look at this as a systemic, institutional issue—not as a critique on whether or not each police officer in Ferguson would have done the same thing. That is completely missing the point.
These are irrefutable patterns all over the country. The point of all of this—ALL of this— is that this is not just in Ferguson. Ferguson just happened to be an incredibly well positioned place and moment in our country’s existence to become an example of what is happening ALL OF THE TIME. Michael Brown’s death is an incredibly powerful moment where, somehow, the whole country responded and this murder is shedding light onto old old old patterns of power and exploitation and oppression in the United States based on Race. Racism is a systemic and institutionalized force. Racism cannot be boiled down to individuals hating other people becuase of skin color, and then acting a certain way because of that hate. Racism is bigger than individuals. It is in the fabric of our policies and education and justice system and media representations—and we breath it in. HOWEVER, thougth it is so insidious and large and at times hard to detect even, racism has very real, very present, effects on individuals of all races. Including the privilege that it gives those who are white, as they are NOT dead on the side of the road for walking down a street and being seen by a police officer. THAT is privilege. And it should not be.
I do not mean to go on and on. I just mean to say that we are looking too closely at the intentions of individuals, who are just people. In reality, we must look at the social influences, the historical patterns, the larger contexts, the larger forces at work, in order to see the importance of this incredibly powerful and heartbreaking moment in history—maybe in order to actually do something to learn how to change these patterns of Racism and injustice.