Last night, I couldn't sleep.
I tossed and turned, listening to the wind.
It was bitter outside, and the wind rattled my windows.
I kept thinking about the other places that wind was going. That same wind, chasing the storm that left my city frozen and wet and frosted.
I knew that same wind must be chilling the streets in Ferguson, which isn't far from here. I thought of the wind whipping through Ferguson, and how it would feel to be standing on the street in that wind.
It would be cold, bone chilling cold. Soul chilling. It would bite at exposed skin. It would howl.
I thought about how I might howl with it, in rage and confusion and pure hopelessness.
I thought about how in Ferguson, no amount of scarves or coats would make your skin feel less exposed.
Yesterday, a grand jury failed to charge the killer of Michael Brown with any charges whatsoever. There is no question that he killed Michael Brown. There is no question that Michael Brown was unarmed. That he was a teenaged boy, enjoying his last summer before heading off to college. That if he were still alive, he would be counting down the seconds until his first real break from the rigors of the semester ended, and he could go be with his family and enjoy the warmth of food and love despite the raging winds outside.
There is no question that Michael Brown was an unarmed teenaged boy.
A police officer shot him and killed him, and never has to answer to that again.
And here is why- white America is so frightened of brown skin that, whether or not it is reasonable or fair or realistic or humane, a white officer can claim that when a brown skinned person moves in their direction, it is a legitimate threat to their life.
THAT is the law. The law is that a police officer can use deadly force if they believe their life is in danger. And in this case, a police officer believed that an unarmed teenaged kid would and could have killed him.
That is a bad law.
More than that, it is a bad, broken way to live. We live in an environment where to have brown skin is to be a perceived threat. All the time.
We have criminalized brownness.
THAT is the law.
Of course there is no justice for the people in Ferguson. There is a broken law that protects bigoted ideas at the expense of real, human lives.
Michael Brown was a human being. It doesn't matter that he was black, or that he was male, or that he was large. What matters is that he was a human being, killed in the street, and that his killer did, according to the law, NOTHING WRONG.
It doesn't matter if he DID attempt to assault an officer. It doesn't matter if he DID rob a store. None of that matters. Because if they were true, Michael Brown should have been given the same protection as Darren Wilson. The benefit of the doubt. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
He will never be proven guilty, because he was dead before he could be charged with a crime.
Darren Wilson will never be proven guilty, because a grand jury determined there was no crime with which to charge him.
THAT is the law.
There is so much anger and resentment built up in this country. So much frustration and fatigue. Nobody expected Darren Wilson to go to jail. Nobody. But the least we could have done, as a community, was hold him accountable.
I understand the urge to break something, anything, when everything around you already feels so broken.
I understand the urge to watch something burn.
I understand the need to embrace the warmth of your fury when the wind is so cold, and with your hood over your ears you can hardly hear that there is somebody near by, offering to hold your hand.
This is not justice. It is not the law. But because the law is so broken, there is no justice. And if there is no justice, what's the point?
What's the point of obeying a law when by the default of your skin you're already guilty?
It's not right. It's not right to stand back and watch the world burn. But it's also not right to stand back and do nothing.
On Thursday, Michael Brown's family will have their first Thanksgiving without him. And every year, they will be forced to find a way to feel grateful, despite carrying the reminder that three days earlier, the man who killed him was cleared of any wrongdoing.
This is our country. These are our values.
This Thanksgiving, all of us should mourn.