We often hear about the cultural bubbles that we build for ourselves online, but, for better or for worse, I’ve never managed to insulate myself from the opinions of those I disagree very strongly with. Ferguson has been no exception. I thought it might be worth the effort to lay out, in detail, my own opinions and observations here on my blog. This is a bit difficult because, for the most part, I would much rather promote the voices of others on this issue, particularly those voices coming out of Ferguson, but I also think that there are people that I can reach by writing about it myself. It’s worth noting at the top, then, that I am a white, upper middle class woman who has never had any trouble with the police and never thought twice about calling the police when I was in trouble myself. But that’s who I’d like to talk to right now, white people who aren’t afraid of the police, because I think we’re the ones who aren’t getting why people are burning buildings and cars in their own city in frustration.
I have some quibbles and questions about who exactly is burning things down, but let us assume for the sake of this discussion it is in fact residents of Ferguson behaving destructively and looting and so on and not, as rumored, militant anti-protester groups, out-of-towners, anarchists, or the KKK.
Forget, for a moment, what you know about Ferguson. I want to talk about anger and despair. When is the last time you got angry? Really, really angry? That you felt unjustly treated, that someone got something that should have been yours? You were robbed, you were violated, you were cheated, you were mistreated, powerless to control the world around you. Have you ever been so mad that you screamed? Threw something? Punched a wall? Got in a fight? The last time I got angry, really properly angry like that, it was because someone had lied to me. I was so angry I wanted to hurt something, wanted something else to hurt so I didn’t have to. I had no power to change what had happened. Despair and anger and powerlessness together are destructive — usually self-destructive. [Read more…]