Justice and Exhaustion

4 Dec
Scene from a New York protest across the street from Rockefeller Center.

Scene from a New York protest across the street from Rockefeller Center.

Editor’s note: This is an off-topic post, not about physical health and wellness, but about mental anguish and exhaustion from recent events.

This is difficult. Writing is my medium of expression, yet I find it hard to convey how I’m feeling right now. The best I can come up with is exhaustion.

It didn’t begin as exhaustion. It began as anger, then morphed into frustration. Now I am lulled into exhaustion. Since the summer I’ve been working very hard to stay physically fit. But I haven’t been emotionally ready for the events that have taken place since then. Eric Garner, Mike Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice and Akai Gurley, all unarmed, have all died at the hands of the police.

To make those tragedies worse, the officers who killed three of them won’t face any charges (the officers who killed Rice and Gurley are still awaiting a grand jury decision).

The case that’s close to my heart is Mike Brown’s because it happened where I grew up. To see your neighborhood on the news, to hear reporters talk about West Florissant, to have to explain the anger and frustration that is happening in your community is an eye-opening experience. To watch the judicial system go through its process and still not work, over and over again, has been wearing me down.

Fannie Lou Hamer said it best: “I’m sick and tire of being sick and tired.”

I am worn out from crying, protesting, donating, explaining and fearing for my people’s lives. More than that, I’m tired of people listening to us scream and not hearing the reasons why.

Earlier this week, the St. Louis Police Officers Association took issue with a handful of St. Louis Rams players who decided to show their support for members of the community by walking onto the field using the “hands-up, don’t-shoot” gesture, which has become synonymous with protesters standing in support of Mike Brown’s family. Instead of respecting these players’ First Amendment rights, the SLPOA issued a statement asking for an apology from the NFL and the Rams and also for those players to be disciplined.

The NFL, rightfully, declined. The players were showing their support for a community—my old home—that was hurting after a grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson. Peacefully expressing your frustration is not only legal, but it is a protected right. It is a right that the officers of the SLPOA are sworn to protect. The Rams are members of the community that the SLPOA has sworn to protect. And instead of protecting those rights, the organization sought to punish the players for taking advantage of those rights.

I thought a lot about this incident a lot the day it happened and throughout the week. What would make a sworn police officer think he has the right and duty to infringe on another person’s rights? How did we get to this point?

The answer is that I just don’t know. I don’t understand where we go from here. But wherever we go, it’s got to be somewhere better.

Last week during our Thanksgiving dinner, we all went around the room to say what we are thankful for. My 15-year-old cousin, whose father owns a business right up the street from where Mike Brown was shot, said she was thankful to have her family with her. We have a lot of young black men in my family right now, with majority ranging from 14 to 22. She looked at them, and with tears in her eyes, said, “It could have been anyone in this room.”

My exhaustion occasionally tips back into the realm of anger when I think about this. That this 15-year-old girl is scared for her family that way pisses me the fuck off. That those boys’ parents fear for their sons’ lives that way enrages me. That a grand jury can have video proof and an autopsy report showing an unarmed man’s death was a homicide and still not send the case to court makes me want to scream.

It is senseless. It is cruel. It is unjust. And, unfortunately, it is reality.

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4 Responses to “Justice and Exhaustion”

  1. deborahcrocker December 5, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    I am so sorry. I have no words to make it better. I do appreciate you sharing this. I saw the video and I can understand your anger .

    May God have mercy on this USA.

    We have spent most of the day with our friend and his wife. Our friends sister and her son were murdered yesterday. Senseless.

  2. Rosey December 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Great post. Very powerful and poignant.

    Thank you, Davia

    >

  3. aquaticbarefoot December 4, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    I hear you; I feel the same way.

    I’m just so tired of this narrative been played out on a seemingly endless loop. But we must have hope.

    “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

    • cicelyd December 4, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      Thank you. You’re right that we must have hope. I keep thinking about the incidences from the past few months and trying to relate it to the ’50s and ’60s. I’m exhausted from just watching the justice system clunk along like a car on its last legs. People in the ’50s and ’60s were watching the same system screw them over—and were being beaten for voicing their frustrations. They had to cry out while being sprayed with fire hoses. There’s less physical antagonism for protesters, but it still makes me weary.

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