This is Possibly the Best Response to What’s Happened in Ferguson That I’ve Seen

benjamin-watsonWhen it comes to the shooting death of Mike Brown at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, there seems to be no shortage of opinions on what happened. And since the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson the debate over this issue has only been more emotional, heated and often times just completely irrational.

So when I ran across a Facebook post from NFL football player Benjamin Watson, it was like an odd sense of relief just came over me. Since the shooting happened rational discourse has been hard to come by, so it was nice to see someone finally voice a rational and well thought out response to everything that’s transpired since that tragic day in early August.

Watson wrote:

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.

He also included a short reference to religion in the full version linked above. I chose no to include it because I didn’t want some to ignore everything else he wrote simply because he included his own personal beliefs about his faith.

Nearly everything he said was spot-on. While there have been what seems like an endless stream of opinions, debates and articles written about this entire situation, Watson’s comments are some of the very few that I’ve read that seem to encompass so many aspects about this whole ordeal. Many have battled back and forth based on which “side” they’re on, but Watson seemed to be speaking straight from the heart without bias, judgement or any sense of trying to put blame on any one thing.

I think he understands that there are no “winners” in any of this. No matter what “side” you’re on, there’s one unescapable fact that cannot be changed: a young man died. And whether you’re someone who feels that Mike Brown was a “thug who deserved to be killed for assaulting a police officer” or you believe he was murdered in cold blood by a racist cop, the fact remains a mother and a father tragically lost their son.

I just wish more people would approach this discussion like Watson, as opposed to the hotheaded and often irrational discourse which I’ve seen far too much of here lately.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Jim Bean

    Everything he said is spot on, I agree. Everything he said is also well reasoned and positively contradictory to going on in the heads for the protestors and the white liberals who defend and enable them.

    • FD Brian

      I hope you’re differentiating between looters and protesters, because I know of no one who is condoning looting and arson.

      • Jim Bean

        The protestors are protesting a civilized justice system. Legal but harmful nonetheless.

      • Rob Bailey

        Civilized justice system? You cannot be serious. Sure, our system is better than some, but it really only works well for those with power and money. I understand your need to troll, but the US Justice system is not based on politics, it’s based on have/have not and to a large extent race. If the Cliven Bundy uprising was a a bunch of black guys with AK’s, you can bet there would have been a different outcome.

      • Stephen Zeigler

        You mean like the one at Waco ? Or perhaps your referring to the un-civilized court system which allowed a man of color to cut down two others and as he was of color allowed to go free.

      • Rob Bailey

        Nope. I’m referring to the facts – data bears it out – about the role of money in the US Criminal Justice system. You are referring to a sharia-like cult of “Christians” that raped children and were stockpiling weapons and explosives. The rest of your babble? You’ll have to be more specific (but for every example you can come up with, I can counter with hundreds). But thanks for playing, Princess.

      • Amanda

        No, he’s talking about the one that allowed a rich, drunk white kid to go free after he killed four people.

      • bammer56

        That’s just un-American. Protests have always been an important vehicle for change in this country. Because of my interest in genealogy, I subscribe to a daily email of what happened that day in history in Frederick, Maryland. Here is a quote from today’s email. “On November 30, 1765, a large demonstration was held in Frederick in the form of a parade and mock funeral for The Stamp Act, repudiated a week earlier by the 12 judges of The Frederick County Court”.

      • Stephen Zeigler

        Yeah…..what every became of that protest….

      • Jim Bean

        Right. And if I gathered couple hundred white folks and we went out and protested the single parent birth rate in the black community or the disproportionate crime or disproportionate HS drop out rate, you’d hail us an appropriate ‘vehicle for change’?

      • Amanda

        What the hell is wrong with being a single parent? I’m a single parent, and I’m white. There’s nothing wrong with it. That’s sexist as well as racist.

      • Jim Bean

        Households headed by single parents have 71% likelihood of being in poverty.

      • Kitty Russel-Dillion

        Please post the links where you are getting your facts from. Either way, this information does not make you or the white race any better than non-white races.

      • FD Brian

        actually you would need to protest against your government not person freedoms that you apparently are okay with unless you don’t like them.

      • Kitty Russel-Dillion

        The same thing is going on in the white world Mr. Jim “Crow” Bean. The only difference is there is more blacks than there are whites. The white race is being washed out by interracial marriages. Thanks be to God!

      • Jim Bean

        Over all, do you think the nation will look more like the black community or the white community in the end?

      • FD Brian

        I don’t think you have the faintest idea what they are protesting.

      • Jim Bean

        To the best of their knowledge (or yours or mine) , they are protesting the shooting death of a large black adult male who, while high on marijuana, had committed multiple felonies , was resisting arrest, and was attempting to murder, or inflict bodily harm upon, a law enforcement officer.

        What do you see helpful in protesting that?

      • FD Brian

        I think they are protesting decades of injustices that you can’t even begin to understand because you are a closed minded white person with little or no empathy for anyone. And a cop who used poor decision making.

      • tumbleweed

        And that right there is the problem.Get over the “decades of injustices” Neither you nor I was a part of that. Maybe that is the big difference between black and white, white lives in the here and now, where blacks can’t get away from the past. You can’t expect the whites to drag you into today, you’re on your own there.

      • FD Brian

        the injustices still exist today, but you wouldn’t understand that.

      • Kitty Russel-Dillion

        Maybe we should protest the amount of white kids who are shooting up our schools and killing their parents. Now, this is a shocker.

      • Jim Bean

        We tried that, in a sense. When those things happen, people try to talk about mental health, peer pressure, school security, and try to look for all sorts of angles to approach the problem. However, the Left always gets out their biggest megaphone, makes the debate exclusively about gun control, and they drown out everything else. After a few months, the Left gets weary of it and moves on to their next big social engineering project and nothing’s been done. Its quite a shame.

      • Kelly Myers

        What multiple felonies? I did actual research and he didn’t have any pending charges. He was never charged with the robbery, so we don’t know if he did that unless you don’t believe in innocent until proven guilty. The altercation between him and the officer was started because he didn’t obey him. Not exactly a felony. The protests are over injustice. The prosecutor didn’t do his job right in front of the grand jury. It should have went to trial so that all the facts could have been looked into.

    • surfjac

      So you didn’t understand what was said…figured as much.

    • adcbeast

      @disqus_7lyFibzcnw:disqus .. You are complete IDIOT and that is being kind

  • Tillmann Puschka

    OK thoughts on the situation, I suppose- and positive for the most part….and naive. Have things really changed dramatically w.r.t. race relations in the past 50 years or so? I don’t think they have. We live in different times now (further into the future than we were 50 years ago), and the same social agents through which racism propagated in the past are still hard at work today. If a ban on interracial marriage were put to a vote today, I can tell you that about 70% of the people I went to school with back in the mid to late 80’s would vote in favor of it- and they would be fearful of being seen as “liberals”. The commenter below me, Jim Bean, speaks of “white liberals” who apparently defend and enable the protesters in Ferguson.

    It’s great to hear intelligent dialogue on this issue, but the progress America has made on race can pretty much be measured in ant units- as in how far an ant can move in one step with its tiny little legs. Please don’t be duped into believing that America is a post-racial society, folks- it clearly is not, even if you did manage to elect a black president on two occasions.

    • bammer56

      I just started reading a book about the race riots in East St. Louis in 1917. The things that are said are not much different than the things said today. I don’t know if I can keep reading – it’s just depressing how little things have really changed.

      • LG Phillips

        Please keep reading…

    • Nancy B

      Agree. I’m 60, and I have seen great positive changes since the 60’s. I clearly remember the anger my grandparents had when our local park opened up their swimming pool to blacks – but only one day a week. I also remember when our high school had to play a football game at an undisclosed location against an all black school because there had been threats of violence (the same school my very white mother had attended 30 years before). BUT, the racism has still persisted. Most of it was just underground for a while, giving it time to simmer. I watched Ferguson riot coverage last week with a sense of deja vu.

      • tumbleweed

        I too had seen great strides foreward, sadly I’m afraid Ferguson has set the country back 100 years

    • adcbeast

      @tillmannpuschka:disqus .. There have been changes and were closer to rooting out the S bags in police uniforms ..

      Major cities have made major strides .. the small places like Ferguson? Well I bet it’s not every officer .. smaller towns still need further work

      but to say it hasn’t changed is too black and white

    • Chip Kusmaul

      I very much appreciate the intelligent level of conversation here. Everyone should read/reread “The three blind men and the elephant.” It’s a story that has been told for centuries, but few learn its lesson. So, having said that, I want to say a few things with the understanding that I, like everyone, have my blind spots. Number one, things have changed, but change doesn’t always mean improvement. Overtly racist organizations (KKK) have been driven underground, not just by law, but by popular attitude. We now have professional athletes playing on racially mixed teams and making big bucks. Popular music is at least as black as it is white. (Actually there were numerous successful black artist, going all the way back to the beginning of recording in the 1800’s. They had a very willing white audience even then.) Segregation has been as accepted norm since the beginning of civilization. There is nothing racist about these people hanging with their kind, and those people hanging with theirs. But the majority almost invariably attempts to subjugate the minority, in some way or another. Before you swiftly condemn that, remember that everyone is in the majority of something. How tolerant are you of the minorities then? Are you tolerant of businessmen? Are you tolerant of cops, the majority of whom are unquestionably honest? If you are liberal, are you tolerant of conservatives? If conservative are you tolerant of liberals? Can anyone say with a straight face that Al Sharpton is a tolerant individual? Did not Obama rush to judgement of the cops who legally entered the black professors house in Cambridge? The cops were doing their job consciensciously, but Obama assumptions, before he had any information, that it was racism. Speaking of racism, the only organization that can legally practice racism is the federal government. It can and does make laws and set policies based on race and gender. Anyone else who does that is in big trouble. You say that’s OK because you feel the gov’t is doing it for a good reason. If you think that, you might want to consider your opinion in the context of “The three blind men.” One more thought, that I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating: the biggest problem the black community has is the “do gooders” in the white community. Blacks are politically equal, but there are whites who treat them as inferior, needing white people’s help. Why? Asians are the most successful race in this country, more successful than whites. I suggest they are that successful because they DON”T seek white help. They take care of themselves. Similar things can be said of the Hispanic community. To the extent that blacks seek white “help”, is the extent that they will never catch up.

  • Stephen Zeigler

    so glad you had the insight to censor the “religion”, God forbid someone could have been offended…

    • sherry06053

      So glad you missed the entire point of the post and focused on the one issue omitted (with a totally rational explanation – which must have hit home because it we exactly for people like you).

    • LG Phillips

      For the religious, if god is in everything, I am more than sure they would been using “praise Jesus” after every paragraph they read. It almost surely was not lost on those of faith. Just imagine how that slight omission held the door open to others who might have ignored this message becausevthe writer might be accused of proselytizing.

    • Joseph Nemeth

      I also wish they had included the whole article. It was so well thought out that I want to read all of it! I feel I like the last page of a book is missing. Thank you, M. Watson.

      • Andy Baker

        He left a link so you can read the rest if you choose

    • Nancy B

      Pretty sure that was omitted to avoid the inevitable irrelevant diversion into lengthy threads involving scripture quoting and Flying Spaghetti Monsters.

  • Douglas Ross

    Very well said, now let it be, Well Done. No Peace Within , No Peace Without.
    Check the Ego

  • MysteryDate

    Censoring Watson’s full comments because he also addressed his personal faith, believing that some of your ilk might completely disregard his comments because he mentions the Gospel and Christ? How freaking hypocritical of you “forward progressives.” EVERYTHING Ben Watson wrote in his comments on Ferguson are a testament to his faith, and resonated it beautifully so for you, that is, until he had to go and ruin the full thing by bringing his God into it, right? The left is so intolerant of any iota of religious expression. You have no problem with the race-baiting that takes place by Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the like, but your religious bigotry just exposes you for what you really are. Intolerant.

    • What is wrong with your post

      You are unaware of the fact that most Christians are on the political left (because that is where the Gospels are) and that the US “religious” right is a freakish anomaly.

  • Nancy B

    Well done, Mr Watson. Nice seeing someone portraying this black and white issue with the gray shading it really has.

  • Macdoodle

    Well today at 1 pm ET blacks all across the country are supposed to walk away from their jobs and out of school.Fire those who leave their jobs and suspend the kids who walk out of class.

    • Kitty Russel-Dillion

      We don’t have to do that. All that we have to do is stop supporting your businesses and your products. I have to agree with you on this one. That would not be a smart move. But spending all of our money in black or minority businesses will get a whole lot of attention!

    • What is wrong with your post

      You know nothing about the proud and patriotic tradition of civil disobedience.

  • rusty_armor

    “He also included a short reference to religion in the full version linked above. I chose no to include it because I didn’t want some to ignore everything else he wrote simply because he included his own personal beliefs about his faith.”

    No. Of course you didn’t ….

  • Douglas

    Everyone seems to have an opinion based on one side or the other. So just how do they expect things to change? Maybe when we open our harts as Benjamin Watson has and look beyond our hatred and fear. Maybe then we can create the space to move forward!

  • cozumeldeb

    Very well said…insightful and sad at the same time…I believe we need to keep a nationwide tote board as to police shootings..CA camera experiment seems to have worked cutting police abuse calls in perhaps that is the answer..lets see what the politicians plan to do..just don’t hold your breath while waiting.

  • Jeff

    The part about religion was the entire point of his posting. He believes the problem is that not enough people have Jesus in their lives, and that this wouldn’t have happened if everyone was a christian. Something which is demonstrably false which should be discussed as a part of his actual posting. I was with him up until the end.

    The end shouldn’t derail the whole thing, for sure, but it should be included and discussed as an important part of what he was trying to say.

  • Terri Wyatt

    What I got out of this entire thing was the reference to “sides” Until there are no “sides” there will be no resolve!!!