Everyone has an opinion on the circumstances surrounding the city of Ferguson and Michael Brown: from how the cops dealt with the situation, to the racial make-up of the case, to the governments stance on the issue, and so many different perspectives that I can neither identify or name them all here. All of these are important to look at, dialogue, protest, and ferment within our bowels. From top to bottom, this has been a dramatic case and will continue to have lasting affects on us as a nation, much like Trayvon Martin and Matthew Shephard.
But this post is not about that; it’s about my eight year old daughter.
While we watched the series of events unfold last night, she was tucked into bed, cozy and warm, enjoying a beautiful night’s rest. When we woke up this morning at six, we turned on the television and the news was on. For a few brief moments, she watched the series of events unravel on the screen, jaw agape with fires burning. She could not comprehend what was going on.
This was a teachable moment.
I explained to her the matters of the case from all perspectives. How there was a black man who was shot by a white police officer. How the area is racially charged. How there is a variety of opinions on what happened that day in Ferguson. She was deeply troubled by all of it, and some of you may be asking why I shared all this with her. Honestly, we are not ones to shy away from real life in childhood context with our kids. She saw the event, and needed help interpreting what was going on.
She said some poignant things about the case in Ferguson.
- “It’s really sad that the young man died, daddy.”
- “Where is this happening? Is this really happening in our country?”
- “Why are people acting like this? Someone is going to get hurt.”
- “Is this close to Aunt Kara? I want them to be safe.”
- “Why do people hate each other?”
- “What is justice?”
We tackled each and every question.
Some of the questions raised more questions. Some cannot be answered. When it comes down to it, she’s an eight year old girl who is witnessing our brothers and sisters in America destroy their city and erupt in anger and sadness over a traumatic circumstance. Yet her takeaways were spot on.
- It’s really sad that Michael Brown died.
- It’s scary that everything is on fire.
There is no justice in a case like this. Because justice is primarily seen through the eyes of a person’s experience, it is impossible to appease the masses. While the grand jury failed to indict the shooter, thus fulfilling justice according to the law, it just can’t be done according to the American population.
People are picking sides, and no one is winning.
There are camps that want the shooter dead. Others want him tried for the crime. Some want him marched up on stage and given a medal, and celebrities are voicing their opinion on Instagram.
There is this undeniable tension we are living in, but none of that matters to my eight year old. For now, she is deeply saddened for the Brown family, and scared for America. And you know what, I think she’s spot on.