Saturday, September 13, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

Guest Post: How Do We Protect Our Children?

How do we protect our children? | Yes, We Rise


Guest Post by Max Reddit

The smoke has cleared in Ferguson. The cameras, pundits, prognosticators, and bloviators have all returned home. And the furor has all but died down. However, my spirit is lifted because I see that even without all the cameras and attention, the residents of Ferguson yet continue to insist that justice be done.

Daily they continue to rally, to march, to insist that the truth be told and justice be served, not only in the name of their fallen son, but in the name of fallen sons and daughters—young brown men and women—everywhere, whose lives were prematurely and unjustly snuffed out.

And this is something new for us. How many times have we been absolutely incensed, utterly infuriated, but only a week or two later when the media stops reminding us of our anger and rush headlong to the next be story, we then forget turn our attention elsewhere and move on, only for justice to continue to elude us?


The state legal apparatus in Ferguson must have learned that lesson well because they chose to push a final decision on the disposition of the officer who shot Mike Brown well into October, undoubtedly under the presumption that by that time, we will have forgotten, and the officer can then be exonerated with little fanfare and only token resistance.


I can only pray that this is not the case, and the people of Ferguson stay steadfast and vigilant. And that in the next election—and the next and the next—they take the time to go out and exercise their right to vote.
“Nothing confounds a man of reason more than unreason.”

But here in my home, I am faced with my own tumult, my own moment of insurrection. You see, I am beginning to believe that my four children, my four brown children, now adults, who I love even more than even I love myself, are losing their trust in me. After years of enjoying their unqualified, categorical trust, I am beginning to believe they are beginning to distrust me when I tell them to just be patient.

When I say to them, “Trust me. Trust your mother. Trust my generation. We are working diligently to work this all out, to end this once and for all so that your generation will not face the madness of our generation. Go to school. Study hard. Speak well. Stay out of trouble. And prepare to reap the benefits of all that we are doing to prepare the way for you.”


Not only that, I add, reason will always overcome unreason.

But they remind me that time is running out. They are already adults. And it is only then that I recognize this. Only at this moment do I recognize that my sons are no longer calves, but bulls with horns, which puts them especially at risk, and the environment is perhaps no safer for them that it was for me and my generation.


I wonder where the time has gone. And during all this time, what have we accomplished? Even as we do better professionally and financially, what does it all mean when our children are still not even able to walk the streets of the suburbs we have worked so hard to barge our way into, when the color of their skin still relates the same depraved narrative of inherent pathology?

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” ― Frantz Fanon

What does it mean that with all we have accomplished, we are still unable to protect our children?

And I worry that in their red hot, ersatz moment of anger at the utter unreason of it all, their reason understandably transforms to unreason (Or is their reason reasonable given all that has transpired?), and their inclination is to lash out, to meet violence with violence, to tear down and destroy, and in doing so, they will be destroyed.

In the same instance, I see the pained, indignant anger in their faces and hear the measured anger in their voices, and I recognize this anger as the same pained, indignant, measured anger in me and my siblings’ faces a generation before, around the time my father lost our unqualified, categorical trust when he told us hold on.

When he said to us, “Trust me. Trust your mother. We are working diligently to work this all out, to end this once and for all so that your generation will not face the madness of our generation. Go to school. Study hard. Speak well. Stay out of trouble. And prepare to reap the benefits of all that we are doing to prepare the way for you.”

We wanted to lash out, to meet violence with violence, to tear down and destroy, but out of respect for my father, we backed down. We decided to trust him, to do things his way.

We went to school. We studied hard. We learned to speak well. And we stayed out of trouble.



In frustration, I call my father to see what wisdom he can offer. I call him so that he can assuage my fear, my doubt, so that he can tell me that everything will all work out in the end, and change is around the corner because eventually reason must necessarily vanquish unreason.

But either he cannot or he will not because he does not give me any concrete answer or assurance. He only stutters and stammers through a string of insipid, impotent platitudes before he finds some excuse to end the call, and I am left no wiser and even less at ease.

How do we protect our children? | Yes, We RiseI doubt that he even knows or believes his own rhetoric anymore because I do not know and believe my own. And suddenly maintaining what is in my mind a place of relative safety, and protecting my position and all my accomplishments and the material goods—the stuff—this position and those accomplishments have allowed me to accumulate, is not as important as protecting those I love most.

And I realize that I, much like my children, am beginning to feel that given my choices—to live or to exist and die piecemeal each day, I really don’t have anything to lose, and that what perhaps seems most unreasonable and unthinkable is both reasonable and thinkable once one’s back is against the wall.

So, I sit down with my children, and instead of quieting them, I listen to them, and together we devise a plan without regards to what might be reasonable or unreasonable, but only what is right.

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