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GUEST EDITORIAL: It’s disgusting

Dr. E. Faye Williams

Dr. E. Faye Williams

By Dr. E. Faye Williams 
Trice Edney Newswire 

I can’t recall a time when I’ve heard the words, “It’s disgusting,” as many times in such a short number of days. I’m sure many readers can say the same thing. Events in Ferguson, Mo., these past two weeks have had that affect.

Based on available information, the first thing I would consider disgusting is the wanton murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown! I am utterly disgusted by the loss of his future potential. What little I know of Michael has been learned from television reports. I do know that whatever potential he had was snuffed out on Aug. 9. The mysteries of Michael’s future are the same we all faced as 18-year-olds. We anticipated stumbles and failures, but most of us looked into our futures with faith and hope that things would be okay. The strength of his family and Michael’s college enrollment strongly suggest his eyes were on a special prize.

I am disgusted by police efforts to paint Michael as sub-human with a propensity for crime and violence. This repeat of the same demonization leveled at Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis is becoming a predictable tactic for the police to justify their murders. This effort is made more objectionable by the Ferguson police chief’s admission the officer who shot Michael did so without benefit of the oldest excuse in the book, “He looked like a reported suspect.” My best guess is few will find the perfect 18-year-old of any race, but I am disgusted so many would require perfection for our young Black men to survive.

It’s disgusting to be faced with the realization those who are sworn to protect and serve the interests of our neighborhoods have come to think of Black Americans in the neighborhoods they police as “the enemy” or “animals.” I won’t attempt to debate the issue of the militarization of the police since some on the other side would rationalize a remote or future application for the equipment they’ve received from the military. I do think it’s a disgustingly horrible indictment of those who administer police actions their initial position would be to demonstrate sufficient animus to direct the use of instruments of war in their own communities against their fellow citizens.

On the flip-side, I am thoroughly disgusted by the criminally opportunistic who would turn this tragedy into an event they could use for personal enrichment or for the advancement of an illegal political objective. I’ve heard protesters described as looters. I’ve even heard some Black leaders describe some as anarchists. Whatever their interest or objective, besmirching the character, reputation and memory of Michael Brown with their ulterior motives is inexcusable.

It’s emotionally disturbing and disgusting for the media to be able to focus on what has been characterized as political apathy in the Black community. How can it be explained otherwise when such great racial disparities exist in the composition of key institutional elements of the Ferguson government? With Black Americans comprising 70 percent of Ferguson’s populace, most would agree it is a travesty of justice to have only one Black city councilmember, three Black police officers and no Black members of the city’s school board.

Whether the greater political participation of Ferguson’s Black people could have impacted the outcome of Aug. 9 is debatable. I find it heartening, however, many Black people seem to have been rudely awakened to their civic engagement responsibility.

Voter registration activities at the numerous rallies for Michael Brown and the demonstrated frustration of the residents foreshadow different political outcomes in future elections.

A top Missouri Republican finds these voter registration activities to be “Disgusting!” No,the murder of Michael Brown is disgusting!

Dr. E. Faye Williams is president and CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Reach her at www.nationalcongressbw.org or 202.678.6788. 

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