Ferguson and the Future

This is not a political blog by any means, and I don’t intend for it to become one, but tonight, my heart is heavy and I find myself unable to sleep. Can I ramble on about the city of Ferguson, Missouri, for a moment?

Darren Wilson faced a grand jury and just a few hours ago, the decision to not indict him on the killing of Michael Brown was finally announced. I don’t really know why I’m the least bit surprised; I suppose that I hoped for some sort of justice for Brown and his family. At least with an indictment, he would face a trial and there could be some possibility that Wilson would have to answer for what he did. He has walked away from all of this a free man. He should count himself very lucky.

What does this mean for Ferguson and the future of our country? I don’t know. There are reports of protests in cities around the nation: Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle. There is violence in Ferguson. People are furious, and they have a right to be, will it change anything? I sure hope so, especially with how many people are supporting the protests around the country.

I read the transcript of Darren Wilson’s testimony in front of the grand jury, and I have to admit, some things just don’t seem to add up in my head. (Editing to add, as of 11/26/14: Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks that, just check out this article on Vox that explains what parts of Wilson’s testimony just don’t make sense.)

I believe that there are many details on Wilson’s side are either grossly exaggerated or made-up altogether. Unfortunately, his is the only account that we have. Michael Brown is dead. We can’t get his side of the story, so we are forced to rely on the evidence we are presented, including the testimony of Brown’s murderer.

Tonight, when it was finally announced that the grand jury had chosen not to indict Wilson on the killing of Michael Brown, I had tears in my eyes. I cried for the loss of a child who was shot and killed despite the fact that he was unarmed. I cried for the parents who will never be able to see their son graduate college or get married or start a family. I cried because the grand jury just told Darren Wilson that what he did was okay and that there will be another family, maybe in Ferguson or maybe somewhere else, who will have to deal with an incident like this somewhere down the line. History will repeat itself because this was not handled properly in the beginning.

I am a white woman. I am married to a white man. We have a white daughter and our future children will be white. I don’t know what it’s like to live in fear of my child becoming involved with the law on the basis that he or she has dark skin. I will never have to figure out how to talk to my children about dealing with the police because they will never be stopped on the street for being black, because ultimately, that is why it all started. Ferguson is a predominantly black community with a predominantly white police force and racial tensions have been high in the community for years, and you cannot tell me that Michael Brown being a young black man had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to him on August 9.

I will never pretend to understand what it’s like to be a person of color in our society, and I also will not pretend that there aren’t certain privileges that I have as a result of my own skin color. The conversations that black families in Ferguson (and around the country) have with their children will not be ones I will have to have with mine. In 2014, that is absolutely insane. This is not the world that the leaders of the civil rights movement fifty and sixty years ago had envisioned. We still have so far to go.

Tonight, my heart hurts for the family of Michael Brown. In the end, no matter how you feel about Officer Darren Wilson, the life of a young man was lost and that is truly a tragedy. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that this boy’s parents are feeling tonight, knowing that not only is their son dead but that there will be no possibility of justice, and knowing that this will happen to someone else’s child in the future because of the precedence that this has set. We can only hope that there is hope for change down the road, and that maybe, something like this can be prevented from happening again to someone else.

My thoughts are with Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown Sr., and the city of Ferguson this evening.

Halloween 2014 Recap

Who said it was okay for it to be November already? Wasn’t it summer like a week ago?

And why are Halloween costumes so expensive? Does it really cost that much to put together a couple of cheap pieces of fabric and some plastic pieces? Come on. For Halloween last year, I sewed R a monkey outfit, but I was feeling super lazy – and cheap – this year, so I put her into an animal print sweatshirt, painted on some whiskers and a nose, and told everyone she was a cat. I suppose cat ears would have been a nice added touch, but we didn’t go shopping for things for her costume until the day before the holiday and I didn’t exactly have much to choose from.

Do you think it’s acceptable for me to eat nearly every piece of candy that my daughter got on Halloween since she’s too young to enjoy much of it herself? I’m just trying to prevent her from getting diabetes, you know. Taking one for the team and all that. Also, some words of wisdom to remember for next year (and every year after that): never, ever wear flip-flops trick-or-treating. The one year that you decide, “I can’t find my socks or shoes, so I guess I’ll wear my flip-flops this one time,” will be the year that snow falls from the sky and the wind burns the skin on your cheeks. Trust me. Learn from my mistakes.

Hopefully, next year will be a little bit warmer and we’ll get R a proper costume.

“When Did We All Grow Up?”

My husband turns twenty-five today. He’s a quarter of a century old, and I’m not far behind.

And yes, I said “husband.” On September 27, we finally tied the knot in a small, perfect ceremony back in my hometown. It’s a word that I’m still not used to, and the thought of being someone’s wife just feels strange to me. I’ll be twenty-five in June, I have a daughter who will be two in January, and I’m a married woman. When I think back to just five or ten years ago, I would have never imagined that I would end up here. I didn’t think I would be married yet, and I certainly didn’t think I would have a child at this point in my life. Everything I thought I wanted back then is nothing like how my life has turned out – which is okay, because I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love my family, I love my life.

Yet, sometimes it doesn’t feel “real” to me. It’s still hard for me to imagine being a mom, and I’ve been “mom” for nearly two years now. It seems like everyone around me is having a baby, getting married, or both, and it’s sort of made me realize just how far we have come from being the carefree teenagers we once were. My former classmates are constantly posting new announcements on social media and it makes my head spin.

I had a short conversation with a friend yesterday about all of these announcements and how everything is suddenly changing and she asked me, “When did we all grow up?” I’m wondering the same thing myself. It feels like just yesterday, I was sixteen years old and starting my first job. Time felt so slow back then, and I couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and go out on my own and be reckless and make mistakes. I assumed I would make the most of my late teens and early twenties: constantly making new friends, going to parties, hanging out at the bar until closing time, doing what I wanted, etc. I’d graduate college, get an awesome full-time job, and maybe by my mid-twenties, I’d find someone who was worth settling down with, and maybe by the time I was twenty-seven or twenty-eight, I’d be having my first child. Things happened sooner than that for me, and I can’t help but feel like the last six years since I graduated high school have gone by so quickly.

So, when did we all grow up? Was it when we all left high school and pursued other things? Was it when we all started moving out of our parents’ houses, getting places of our own, and paying our own bills? Was it when we all started getting full-time jobs, having babies, getting married – all of the above? Is there even an answer to that question?