Earlier this week I was presented with an opportunity to go to Ferguson, MO to participate in a large demonstration set to take place there in the next coming weeks.
When I first read the e-mail my immediate reaction was to JUMP on it, but then I read the agenda and my enthusiasm waned. Basically, I would be going to participate in marches, rallies, etc. The schedule would be packed to the brim and although I’m sure that some would find the idea of a road trip to be a fun, life-long bonding opportunity, I dread the very concept. Crammed in a car or 12 passenger van driving through the southern midwest with some acquaintances who assume a friendly, personal relationship with me solely on the basis of a shared lumping of our color and racial identity and social status as minority students at a Predominantly White Institution does not appeal. Nor does devoting so much time and energy into a shallow political angryism because I feel a sense of racial responsibility.
If I were to go to Feguson, MO I would need to engage in a level of activism that many do not find very “active” at all. I would want to talk, observe, write, reflect and truly delve into the issue in a way that I could not if I were to be running around the streets, burning my energy on the raw physicality of the experience like my peers.
I would feel more engaged by brining the experience back to the community in the form of an editorial spread for a local newspaper, a photo campaign from the streets of Ferguson, a personal journal documenting my thoughts and emotions…I would need to work on a tangible artifact that I could preserve and use to inspire. I would need freedom to explore, engage, challenge, breathe and create for myself my own understanding in a way that just may not fit within the mission and scope of the trip’s schedule.
Some may accuse me of being a bad black person or a bad activist (if they would even call me such) for sitting this one out but I know in my hear that activism is more than angryism and I think that is what so many have yet to figure out.