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.


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