Amidst Anger, We Can't Lose Hope / by Yessenia Funes

I always try my hardest to see the bright side of things. I try to be optimistic. Even when I say, "It's the end, man," deep down what I mean is, "It could be the end, but hopefully it's not." Maybe I'm not making sense. I don't know how to make sense of things right now to be honest. All I can make sense of right now is this: Police brutality continues to be an issue that is accepted by the American justice system.

Oh, didn't you hear? A St. Louis grand jury decided just a few hours ago that Office Darren Wilson won't be held accountable for his murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown. It's a shit show down there right now. If you don't know what this whole thing is about, read about it here. It gives the story from all accounts. And, seriously, read the fucking news. It's disgusting that just last week a young woman in my class confused the Brown case with Trayvon Martin. She didn't even know Martin's name. She referred to him as the "kid with the Skittles." That's fucking disgusting and unacceptable when even Facebook feeds its users news now. Anyway, excuse my slight tangent and vulgar language. I feel disgusted, and I feel hurt, and I feel scared. This is scary. Isn't it?

I didn't know this Brown dude. I don't know if he was a good guy or whatever. Maybe he was a criminal, and maybe he deserved an arrest. Wilson claims Brown attacked him. Evidence of Wilson's "injuries" have been released. It looks to me like Wilson was punched in the face. That's also what he claims, though his account sounds like his face should've been more messed up. Do you know what happened to Brown? He got shot — at least six times including twice in the head. Since when did a sock to the face give someone the right to shoot another individual? And kill them? But this is an officer, so it's OK. Right?

Brown didn't deserve to die. Officers shouldn't have the right to decide who lives and who dies. In Wilson's testimony, which Mother Jones published online, he described Brown by saying, "Brown had bright yellow socks on that had green marijuana leaves as a pattern on them (p. 208)." Most hip kids nowadays know Wilson is probably referring to HUF socks. I own a pair myself, except they are bright pink socks with blue marijuana leaves as a pattern. They can be bought at skater stores. Oh, these are such thugged out shops (sarcasm by the way). What do Brown's socks have to do with anything? Why even mention them to the grand jury? To continue this ridiculous idea that marijuana makes people bad and if someone supports marijuana, they are a bad person, a criminal? Again, I'm rambling.

This just seems so ridiculous to me. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was just killed yesterday, Nov. 24, by police. Sure, this kid was waving around a fake gun. But holy shit, does that mean he needs to be killed? Like aren't officers taught to shoot in the leg or something to put the perpetrator down and then arrest them? Why just go for the kill? Officers need better training. And our African American youth need to be taught that guns aren't cool. They're not a toy you wave around at a park — even if it's not a real gun.

And in the case of Brown, maybe if he had a little more respect for the police department, he wouldn't have blatantly disrespected Wilson, which led to the confrontation and his death.

I grew up in a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood. Man, some of the kids I grew up with were beyond rude. They would curse out a teacher without batting an eye. If they were bored, they'd riot and maybe break the front door of our high school. Or maybe a 7-11, which I just discovered was covered by several stupid (and one even racist) sites here and here. They were reckless, disrespectful and pretty fucking ignorant. This was the environment I grew up in. Many of my peers walked around with T-shirts to their knees and du-rags on their heads. Many also exhibited hostility to superiors. Does that mean they deserve to be killed? They need a lesson, sure. They need some real world. But death? No way. Most kids in neighborhoods like mine have never stepped outside the walls of their cage. They're doomed by the system to just stay in the same place with the same people doing the same damn stupid thing, never learning or expanding their minds or realizing that there is more.

There is more out there. There is more we can do. There is more police departments can do. There is more our justice system can do.

Like I said, I like to look at the bright side of things, even when I don't really want to. Even when it just seems plain stupid and naive. I try to. I really fucking do. And right now I am trying very, very, very hard to think that this isn't it, to think there is more. Maybe police departments can follow in the steps of Camden, New Jersey's. This city really turned itself around by building workshops where the community members meet their police officers. New York Times' Kate Zernike has been keeping up with the city and wrote a moving piece earlier this year on its progress. This can happen. Why don't all police departments do something like this? Or at least the ones facing corruption from the police and hostility from the community.

You know, even though this verdict wasn't what I would've liked, it was something. An officer was tried in court. Everything takes its time. Maybe next time an officer is tried, he or she won't win. Maybe that murderer won't be able to simply walk away.

Justice needs to be served. And it will.

I have to believe it will because, as a woman of color with many friends of color, I need hope for them, for me, for you — for the United States of friggin' America.

Photo courtesy of Flickr // Light Brigading