I have always been more of a Facebook person than a Twitter person. I didn’t often check my Twitter feed. But for some reason last Tuesday, 12 August, I woke up and while laying in bed talking myself into getting up to make a cup of coffee I opened my Twitter and looked at the feed. I saw that my 15 year old son “The Genius” had been tweeting….
all night in fact.
He was tweeting angry things, and tweets with “bad” words. It was all about “#ferguson” and “racial injustice”. I had not been watching any news shows the past few days, and I was not aware of what was going on in Ferguson. So I went to some of the articles on his Twitter feed and I was shocked!
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A young black man killed while he was unarmed? Witnesses said he had his hands up in the air, yet he was still killed? Tear gas was being thrown at “rioters”? The images of the militarized police were astounding to me.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. These pictures and videos were not from Gaza, or Israel, or Syria or Iraq or any other place that is in the midst of a military and humanitarian crisis. It was happening in a small suburb of St. Louis!
I couldn’t look away from Twitter. I started following Antonio French on Twitter so I could keep updated. I couldn’t get myself to leave Twitter. I was watching history unfold right before my eyes!
Then The Genius told me about #NMOS14. This was an idea for a National Moment of Silence started by @feministaJones on Twitter. She wanted to get the whole country together to have vigils and a moment of Silence to honor victims of Police brutality. To talk about what is going on in our country. To honor those slain by police unjustly and unarmed.
My son and I knew immediately we would be attending this vigil. Something happened to us at that moment. We became partners in a cause. We didn’t even have to discuss it. We just knew. We knew that we would do whatever we could to help make a change.
We attended the vigil at Old Dominion University on Thursday August 14, organized by Rachael Payton, an ODU student who is passionate about making a change. As the event started, she recited a poem she wrote that was inspiring and moved me to tears. We briefly chatted amongst ourselves and then at 7:20 we had a moment of silence together. A moment to honor those slain by police unjustly. A moment against police brutality.
Then Rachael opened the floor for comments, stories, whatever people wanted to share. A young man (about 19 or 20) stood up and talked about an incident in his life where he walked from his house to a nearby 7-11 to get some claritin because his allergies were bothering him. It was 12:30 am. He purchased his items and walked home. As he approached his backyard a police cruiser rolled up and stopped. The officer in the vehicle shone his light on the young man. The young man froze and did not move. He remained that way for several minutes with the light trained on him. He could see his house, the tv playing in his sister’s bedroom, the fence around the backyard. He was no more than 40 feet from his home. He said all he could think was that he might be shot, he might be killed. Because he was a black man who had the audacity to go out late at night. To get medicine. He said another police cruiser rolled up behind the first one. After a few minutes the light was turned off and the police officers simply drove away. No words were spoken. He was not addressed by the officers, just bathed in the white light of their scrutiny. He continued on home.
There were more stories like this. Stories about members of their families, or their friends, or themselves being targeted or questioned, thrown onto the hoods of police cars. Detained for no reason. Simply because of the color of their skin. This MUST stop. We MUST stop it.
I was moved to tears more than once by the stories I heard that night. Stories both frightening and uplifting. The solidarity in that room was palpable. We had come together determined to make a change. To affect our world in a positive way. White people, black people, brown people. Older people and young people. None of that mattered that night. What mattered was that we were human beings who shared a sense of obligation to affect a change!
On the way home my son told me that he wanted to continue working towards making a change. He wanted to get involved in whatever way he could. He said it wasn’t fair that as a white male he didn’t have to be scared walking down the street like black boys his age did. He said he didn’t want to have his friends grow up and have to teach their children how to behave with police because of the color of their skin, due to fear for their lives.
I will continue to actively seek out ways he and I can work together to make these changes. Because #NMOS14 is not about an event in history to me, it is about what we can do everyday to make this world a better place for ALL of us. This is what #NMOS14 means to me and my 15 year old son.
Will you join us?