• Thu. Feb 2nd, 2023

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Cops, Ni****s, Squirrels, and Hope

ferguson and hope for mine www.janeanesworld.com
My husband and my son, back when my husband was taller. I hope police continue to protect them and not harm them.

It is terrific to have hope because sometimes, hope is all you have. When the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for any crime connected with the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO was announced, I was sitting with my eleven-year-old son in the living room. Before the decision was announced, my son said that the officer would not get indicted because police do not get indicted for shooting unarmed black men, period.

Like most people, we followed what had been going on in Ferguson since Michael Brown was killed in August of 2014. When the verdict was announced, I immediately thought of an essay by Marcus McGhee called “An Essay on Niggers and Squirrels.” He says his grandfather told him that he saw white men go to jail for hunting squirrels out of season, but he never saw a white man go to jail for killing a black man.

As the wife of one black man and the mother of a black boy, this verdict is real to me. I live on the historic Main Line, an area of suburbs not far from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our neighborhood is relatively free from crime and we feel safe and at ease in our mixed-race neighborhood. Whenever an incident like the death of Trayvon Martin or the death of Michael Brown happens. There is news coverage and discussions about race take place in workplaces and schools all across the country. Each time, without exception, I will be asked by my non-black friends how my husband and I will talk with our children about these issues. I always laugh and give the same response, “My children are black 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So we talk about racial issues all the time. It is not something we save for special holiday discussions.”

Every time a police officer kills an unarmed black person race, police, and crime will be discussed all over America. Ferguson will be big news and big, weighty, and serious discussions will take place. Then one day, a few weeks from now or a few months from now, Ferguson will cease to be big news. It will cease to be big news because people will grow bored with all the talk changing nothing. It will cease to be big news because people will grow bored with telling the same stories over and over again. Or saddest, but more likely than not, Ferguson will cease to be big news because another unarmed black boy or black man will be killed by police and attention will follow the new sad story. The new unimaginable story will take all our time and attention.

As I watched the news coverage about the grand jury decision in Ferguson with my son, I held back tears. I do not know why I wanted to cry. I did not know Michael Brown. I did not have a direct connection to the events in Ferguson. What I did have is a son who is a little black boy. What I did have is a husband who is a black man at work miles and miles away from home. If an unarmed black man can be killed by police in America and suffer no punishment, what could possibly make me believe that my son and husband will always be safe?

All I have is hope. Each day as I send my son to catch the school bus, I hope he will get to school safely and return to me unharmed at the end of the day. I hope police officers do not stop my son as he walks the block from the school bus to home. Each day when I send my husband off to work, I hope he will get to work safely and return to me unharmed at the end of the day. I hope that if for some reason he is stopped, he is not shot, arrested unjustly, or harmed in any way. I hope that if my husband is stopped by police while driving to or from his destination, he is not profiled as a criminal, a threat, or a danger. I hope he comes home to me safe, secure, and unharmed.

A reality of life is that sometimes things are bad. Sometimes, things are scary. Sometimes, we do not know how to make things better. At those times, all we have is hope for the future. Be encouraged at those times, because hope is strong. Hope is powerful and hope helps us move from despair to victory. The church girl in me is reminded of the old gospel song that says that hope is built on God. When I think of that, my sadness about the situation in Ferguson and across the nation is touched. My tears are dried due to my hope for a brighter future. My hope is that my son will one day see that when a police officer shoots and kills an unarmed black man there is punishment instead of excuses. I hope for a better world, a safer world, a fairer world. But more than all that, I hope my son and my husband are protected by the police and not harmed.

Since I first wrote these words several years ago, Derrick Chauvin a former police officer was convicted of murder. He murdered a man named George Floyd that he was trying to arrest. Instead of following his duty to protect and serve, Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes. My family and I were shocked by the verdict. We were shocked because in our experience when cops kill unarmed black men, they get paid time off and not jail sentences.

The murder conviction gave us some hope. We hope that there will be more verdicts of cops getting convicted of murder when they murder people.

In conclusion, it is terrific to have hope because sometimes, hope is all you have. So, the question for you this sensational day is, for what do you hope even when your hope seems to be insane?

26 thoughts on “Cops, Ni****s, Squirrels, and Hope”
  1. I have a lot of thoughts on this topic because I live an hour and a half from St Louis. It’s a very racial area here, especially in the rural parts where I live. I feel that the grand jury made a bad decision. Sadly, I am in the minority around here. I’m so sick of people throwing around the word “thug” like it’s the new N word. I’ve even heard people say that Michael Brown did get justice.. when he was killed. I’m sorry but I do not think that the sentence for stealing a few cigars should be to get pumped full of bullets. I also do not think cops should be judge, jury and executioner. I’m so tired of people saying “why are people always bringing up race” as if it’s not a big deal anymore. Well, it is. It’s just hard for people to see it when they’re not in a minority.

  2. This situation saddens me. As a daughter of a black man, sister or black brothers, wife of a black husband, and mother of black sons.. It hits from so many different angles and it hurts. I think what hurts the most are the comments. We can never come together until we can face some necessary truths on racism and white privilege.

  3. What does rioting and looting have to do with this article?

  4. Like most people, I have been following this story on the news and it is just heartbreaking. I hope we can finally open a dialogue in this country about race in this day and age

  5. I think the saddest thing is that there are good people in that town that are having to put up with what some deem justice. As a white woman in Oklahoma, yes conservative Oklahoma, I do not see the issues on a day to day basis. We have many races near us and I don’t treat them different. I don’t see mistreatment of our neighbors and friends. We have a mindset of “we are Americans, not white, not Asian or African, or Native Indian. It is my hope and wish that all areas would see life as we do here. I have mixed race grandchildren and just got my new great grandson… AND tho I know they may face racial issues in their life, I will always stand with and protect them til my last breath. Whewww. I am emotional today with this new birth in our family.

  6. We live in a scary world, even if we have our “freedom” we’re stil in danger from the people who should be protecting us; it doesn’t make sense.

  7. I am saddened by the recent events that have happened and it scares me as well. I pray that things change for the better and soon.

  8. This whole situation was horrendous, and from all angles it was tragic. Two institutions and a broken community crashed in death and statistics. There was no way a family or a culture was going to find justice from one of the 5 estates of institutionalized racism in this country. There were no rights in the whole situation, and all of those wrongs could not produce a right. Now, in the aftermath, is where rights can be made – if anybody is willing to forge a new path. Historically, America is not a country known for voluntarily forging new paths.

  9. I think some officers forget that we pay them with our taxes to protect us and serve us. All of us. Shooting someone should never be the first response. The shoot first, ask questions later ideology is out of hand.

  10. I am so sad about the state of this country right now and, yes, I, too, hope your husband and son — and all husbands and sons, wives and daughters, mothers and fathers — are protected by the police and not harmed by them.

  11. I have not followed it enough only to see the riots happening today. I am not sure how I feel about the reaction as I don’t have enough information.

  12. I have two children, so despite my difference in race, I can completely understand your hope. I too hope my kids remain safe and that the bad decision of one person doesn’t take the innocent life of my children. I have lost a family member from the selfish decision of a drunk driver, so I have a realistic reminder that innocent lives get taken daily from choices another may make. But I still carry hope that they get to live out a long healthy life!

  13. This entire case just makes me feel sick.
    I know that there is a plan and a purpose behind all of this but until God share’s his plan we will just have to wait and see.
    Perhaps this will be a turning point and things will get better…where everyone regardless of colour will feel safe.

  14. As a mom of a few black sons, I pray daily that they are in God’s hands. We teach them to respect law enforcement and my prayer is that they in turn will be fair and protect & serve ALL of our community members regardless of race.

  15. I too hope that your husband and son continue to be protected and not harmed. I really enjoyed reading this, albeit what was a terrible tragedy all around that inspired it’s writing.

  16. I honestly don’t follow the news that much since it’s incredibly depressing, but I have caught wind of the case on Twitter. I can understand why so many people angry about it, because it was a terrible, senseless death. You’d think that by it being 2014 that racism would be a thing of the past, but the truth is that racism runs rampantly more than ever. It’s just that more people are discreet about it. In God’s eyes, no crime goes unpunished.

    HilLesha

  17. I am not familiar with that case, but I certainly hope that the police do protect – like they are supposed to!

  18. I agree, sometimes hope is all there is available to us. At the same time, hope is powerful and our hope sustains us while we wait for and make changes.

  19. Brittnei, our family is one of those holy roller, born again Christian families and no matter how bad things get, it is our faith, our hope that keeps us moving and smiling. Some things will never change unless there is a spiritual change.

  20. My hope is for the same thing. I too have a black family and sometimes as you said, hope is all that you can have. I hope that they will also be protected but I also hope that they day will come when this sort of thing will end.

  21. I hope for everything. I hope that the world will become a better place, that people will be nicer, that the government will no longer be run by big business, that something will change for the better. I hope because sometimes all we have is hope. And that keeps me going. Even when things are dire.

  22. I have a husband and son as well and I definitely see what you are saying because we are also black. Before hearing the decision, my husband and I saw this movie about Oscar Grant. He is another one that was killed by a police officer. I believe this officer was charged with murder though. It’s like the only case I’ve heard where the outcome was this. What’s sad is, people might think we are overreacting and that this particular case wasn’t indictable, but there are so many more incidents that happen that never reach the media so people who don’t experience things like this would never know it’s that serious of an issue unless they looked it up. No matter what changes do or don’t happen in this country, though I hate to sound religious, I will say this out of pure honesty, and that is that I believe our only hope is the Most High. My hope concerning this and everything else that is done to our people is solely in Him.

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