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Talk Back: Don’t Let Your Kids Be Darren Wilson

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Shaking uncontrollably, I listened to the announcement that Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown. Since such a crime by the hands of a police officer has not been isolated, I knew what to expect. Still, tears ran down my face faster than their bullets ripping through our humanity. I placed my glass down, lay back in my bed and gave way to the pain that was demanding my attention.

How could they do this again?

Leaving us hanging like fruit, strange fruit on every tree in sight without consequence as a reminder that White supremacy reigns. Remorsefully, I picked up my phone and scrolled through social networks to discover the inevitable: victim-blaming and respectability politics galore. “Pull your pants up and they won’t shoot you.” “Mike Brown shouldn’t have been a thief.” “The media is to blame!” “The protestors are so violent.” “Look they are looting again!” And of course, the “go back to Africa if you don’t like it here” and “teach your children not to be thugs.” I became enraged as they fed off of one another’s misinformation and because of their refusal to understand the gravity associated with Ferguson.

They do not understand the strain placed upon Black parents to teach their children not to be so-called thugs, the strain of respectability politics – a mirage that appears as if it will grant one humility and immunity in the eyes of entitled oppressors. Yet, a great deal of Black parents oblige so their children can actively engage in their community without, hopefully, crossing paths with an angered White authority figure. They do not understand that the unjust idea that change rests upon our shoulders because society is too busy looking at our wrong-doings, the media is too busy painting us in an animalistic light, and White America is too busy tuning in to affirm their misguided ideologies. Few are looking in their direction. We did not put ourselves in this situation. We did not start this war.

This illusion that if one refrains from being the thug they deem us to be then access to their American Dream will be attainable to all. Meanwhile, we still hang; strange fruit from America’s deeply rooted tree of oppression.

Respectability politics never stopped them before, and when offered up as a solution has produced unsatisfactory results as we saw in Martin Luther King Jr.: mainstream society’s go-to person when advocating for nonviolence. Remember, his tailored suit and tie did not prevent his assassination.

“Well stop using the N-word” they say. “Stop pulling the race card,” they say. “Don’t be thugs,” they say; while they side with the Ku Klux Klan and rally against us and raise funds for all the Darren Wilsons.

They try to turn a blind eye to the strange fruit hanging, lynched mercilessly, and fueled by years of instilling inherent fear of Blackness and instilling superiority of Whiteness. Darren Wilson says he was doing his job and countless support his decision to murder an unarmed 18-year-old because they too understand the fear of Black bodies. They say he did us all a favor by taking this “thug” off of the streets –because we are a hypocritical society full of victim-blaming rhetoric and failure to take responsibility for one’s own actions.

“Teach your children not to be thugs,” they say, and many work to become the epitome of respectability; while so few are teaching their children not to become future Darren Wilsons.

Yet, every 28 hours they add more fruit to the tree. Strange fruit, hanging as outcries for justice ring through the air. These cries are no longer muffled. We will not be lynched silently