Monday, December 01, 2014

Ferguson Decision: Benjamin Watson's Two Cents

Benjamin Watson plays professional football for the New Orleans Saints and, just before game-time last week, the decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown came down. Like many of us, Watson was confused, angry, hurt, sad, pissed off, but took a moment to write his feelings down in a Facebook post that went viral.

Here they are:

 “At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:
I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.
I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.
I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.
I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.
I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.
I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.
I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.
I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.
I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.
I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.
I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.
I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”
Words to live by, to grow by, to understand, and to try and do better.


the dogs' mother said...

As mother of Eldest I had occasion to advise my son, after the fact, NEVER to argue with someone who has the legal authority to shoot you.

In the back of my mind I've got to wonder - was I even able to have that conversation with my son because he is white?

(thanks for posting that)

Bob Slatten said...

I was brought up to respect the police, but these days, with so many bad apples, it makes you wonder.

And I can't help but think how we would be reacting if Wilson was a black cop and Brown was a white young man.

Frank said...

Very well said, Watson. I think we, as gay folks, can relate to much of that anger and frustration and fear and hope and all those other feelings because our oppression continues every day despite the gains we've made. So if we can relate, that is a good thing. The sin/Jesus part seemed a bit preachy and "canned" however, not of the same quality as what he said from the heart.

Bob Slatten said...

I got that same feeling about the sin/God/preachy parts.

viktor kerney said...

I can't put my words together over this

Biki Honko said...

What a thoughtful man, and his words were wonderful, up to the religion bit, which you two are right, came across as pre-packaged.

Could it be that we are finally ready to talk about maybe not having police be armed? Or to have night patrols be by two police rather than one? And to not have a permanent partner, but a rotation?

Debbie said...

Wow. That was so HONEST. He expressed everything so many feel but are unable to articulate. Beautifully written.

Helen Lashbrook said...

I'm sad because yesterday someone said to me that the fuss would never have happened if the police had shot a white man; I tried to explain that the victim would not have been shot if they'd been white, but I don't think the message got through.
As for dis-arming the police is concerned, you have to get over the prejudices of those like the American who visited here (in the UK)and saw armed police at airports and said that we should be enraged because we cannot carry arms too.