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Exposing Weakness

Listened to Joni Mitchell melancholy on Tuesday and then later held Mr. Poop-adore in my arms, inhaling his baby-ness with joy, hope, and a seasoning of fear. I looked at my son, Mr. Poop’s father, over six feet tall, but my baby still, always my baby boy. And I thought of Michael Brown, still his mother’s baby boy when Darren Wilson executed him. I move fluidly from happiness to despair, my small, personal world colliding with the largeness of gigantic injustices.

When George Zimmerman was on trial for murdering Trayvon Martin, I actually believed he’d be held accountable. I knew Wilson wouldn’t. Cops say, just as the wannabe cop Zimmerman did, that they pumped bullets into a body because they fear for their lives, even if the human being dead in the street is running away or kneeling, defenseless. And the shooter subsequently says he did nothing wrong, would do it again.

There can’t be enough articles written about the killing of young black men.
Just as there cannot be enough written about a society that justifies this with “he got what he deserved, this shoplifting thug.” Imagine the outcry if the white privileged were shot for filching cigarillos.

I lay in bed last night thinking about something my mother said when I was in college: “If I were black, I’d be angry.” I told her she should be angry, should be outraged that any group of people is robbed of civil rights.

My own outrage and protests have yielded no change, but I perceive the Ferguson uprising as an encouraging sign that’s spreading, growing.

Our country’s slip is showing, all that pretty lace in tatters, unraveling. The militarized police have been trained to smash it back together again but smashing doesn’t mend. Indeed, it exposes the weaknesses in the fabric.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com