I've probably spent the past few days mulling over the the topic of this post, trying to put some cohesive thought together (Hence, the lack of a post since Thursday). For the most part, I keep it relatively light here on the blog. Not necessarily because I'm trying to hide the messy bits but quite frankly, not many messy bits have come up lately (aside from general "what am I doing with my life" and the occasional sad moment). I do try to be as authentic as possible, because, really, can't we always tell as readers when someone isn't being real and isn't it damn frustrating? But this is authentic, and messy, and real.
Over the past few days, I've seen numerous tweets/ IG posts reading something along the lines of: "There's a riot going on in Ferguson, but ya'll posting about Robin Williams." I understand the underlying point of the statement, but it's such a stupid thing to say. For one, who's allowed to determine which tragedy is more post-worthy? Who can dictate which death another grieves over? (The news of Robin Williams' depression and subsequent suicide saddened me too, in remembrance of the angsty teen I was who discovered and quoted Dead Poet's Society on end.) Secondly, and most importantly in my opinion, that statement contributes absolutely nothing of value. What? Did you think that was clever? All it does is pin one against the other, perpetuating the idea that one life is more important than the other, as if one should be grieved and the other one forgotten. And that is the issue here, that lives are being valued on variable scales. That's the most terrifying part of all.
That's what I felt when I heard about all that has happened in the past week or so. I was scared. Scared for what this means for black people and humanity in general. And quite selfishly I admit, scared of what this meant for me. I was an overprotected child (hell, in some ways I'm an overprotected adult!), but I wasn't sheltered. I was a bookworm who loved learning and absorbed information eagerly like a damp sponge. I had plenty of friends, of course, but I also had a curfew that was earlier than everyone else's throughout high school. My father let me discover my surroundings while simultaneously keeping me as close as possible, although I'm sure he feared for me with every step I took out of his arm's reach. He taught me to care about myself and achieve as much as I could without being too prideful; to not be afraid but be aware that the world could be a danger to me if I let it. But it seems to be that me letting it doesn't have a damn thing to do with it. Something about the most recent events whispered to me: "None of that matters".
You can be as smart as you can, as hard-working as you want to be, as peaceful as you should be, as compliant as you're suppose to be, but it doesn't matter. If someone decides that your life isn't valuable, no matter how accomplished you've become or how "bright your future" is, they can take it from you. You may think I'm being dramatic (and I do have a flair for the dramatic, it's true), but whatever I'm being, that thought - it scared that living shit out of me. However fleeting it may have been and although I quickly regained my senses, it still flickered across my mind clearly.
Why should I even try?
There's the danger in all of this. That thought up there. With every pull of the trigger on an unarmed black person (or white, or Hispanic for that matter), we perpetuate the question "why should I even try?" when my life is not as valuable as the man aiming at my chest. And what's more, I can surrender with my hands above my head and still get shot fatally as if I were a rabid dog in need of putting down. And when people protest and inquire for answers, their peaceful words and questions will be met with officers dressed in miltary-style gear as if they are the one doing the terrorizing. It makes my stomach churn.
As usual, in situations like these, a multitude of information is being unearthed about the victim. He had a bright future. No wait there was marijuana in his system! But the truth is, I don't care. Whether he was headed to college or robbing a store or both, what's important remains unchanged. The value of a life is not diminished by the things we say, the choices we make or the manner in which we live our lives along the way. The value resides in the fact that we live, and have a future however brightly or dimly it may shine. A future that should not be extinguished so easily, so mindlessly.
* Disclaimer: All thoughts are purely my opinion as a human being not as a law school graduate/lawyer. I do not mean to offend or insult anyone and I sincerely hope that no one interprets what I've said in that manner.