ferguson protests

The children of Ferguson weeks after protests

Even though our school started two weeks ago, I have already signed up for parent/teacher conferences for my twin 5th Graders. My, how time flies. The children of Ferguson finally started school today because the unrest in their neighborhood made it unsafe to do so beforehand. Only a few years ago, I recall the desperation as a single parent. When school closed, I scrambled for child care so I could go to work. I also remember being stuck in my house when the electricity was out for five days from a massive ice storm.

To be clear, little compares to a Ferguson parent’s experiences. None of my single mothering taught me the hardship of trying to get to my night shift job when my neighborhood was subject to curfew. Also, I never had to worry that my hair might be too “ethnic” for my conservative work place.

how did the children of ferguson fare in the weeks following?

There are a lot of ways in which the lives of people within a given community can find common ground. There are also some that they will never fully appreciate about each other.

ferguson protests
Ferguson Police Officer leading some little NAACP marchers in Ferguson.

I’m confident the children of Ferguson learned some important life lessons the last two weeks despite not being in school. No doubt they absorbed lessons about the value of life. Or that folks will guffaw at improper grammar on protest signs. The children of Ferguson now know what it is like for a tragedy to capture the national consciousness. Some things I’m sure they already learned. For instance, the protection and betrayal of skin color.

No child should have to learn to distrust strangers bearing molotov cocktails or exactly what an assault rifle looks like. No one in elementary school should know what tear gas smells like. I also hope they learned that they aren’t alone, that the rest of their city hasn’t abandoned them. That everything that has happened in the last two weeks in Ferguson has made a profound impact not only on their community, but to their country, and even the world.

That black life matters to people who aren’t black.

NAACP Youth March for Ferguson

My 10YO daughter and I attended the NAACP Youth March for Peace this weekend. It was hot as balls. We joined about 400 profusely sweaty folks in Ferguson, MO to march silently down W. Florissant Ave. to Canfield Drive, the street where unarmed black teen Michael Brown was killed by white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Also in attendance was Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson and Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson as well as a slew (or is it a gaggle?) of media. There were ample opportunities for positive public relations in a community who could use all they can get.

ferguson protests
Officer Ron Johnston leading the NAACP Youth March on W. Florissant Ave.

the children of ferguson deserve so much better

There are strong differences of opinion about a lot that has happened in Ferguson. Many questions remain. Was Officer Darren Wilson was justified in killing Michael Brown? Did the protests (and rage that followed) do more harm than good? What about whether the local police overstepped their bounds with an aggressive militarized response? Yeah, I think we all agree on that one. Did the media help shine a light on the events or reacted in an all too familiar feeding frenzy? So many questions with complicated answers. One thing that we should all be able to agree on is how tragic it is to lose a child. For that, my heart aches for my grieving city.

I don’t understand any parent, no matter what color, not being able to relate to the universal truth that we all want the best for our children. We all want to keep them safe. Perhaps I can relate a little because I know the judgment of strangers who know nothing about you other than what’s right before their eyes. I’ve been in public situations with my son with autism when he has attracted every eye in the restaurant throwing a tantrum like a lunatic on a mechanical bull. I don’t know, however, what it’s like to feel the terror of a police officer stopping me for no good reason. Or having an officer violate my constitutional rights. I do know, however, the agony of being on the receiving end of ignorance.

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