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The People’s District: I Hope Ferguson Burns

The People’s District is an opinion article written by the readers of Forth. While we deem the thoughts provoking and thought through they do not necessarily reflect the views of Forth as a team.

“If we cannot live as people, we will at least try to die like men”

-Charles Lynch

STATEMENTS OF “FACT”

‘The facts never lie’ is one of the most calloused, unsympathetic, and historically ignorant statements. This statement has come out of the mouths of many Americans––black and white, in light of the recent grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. In its disposition, this statement pours salt on a wound of injustice that many of my American brothers and sisters perceive is healing or worse, has healed.

“FACTS NEVER LIE”

For those siding with the facts and their inability to lie, here are a few clarifying questions: Did the facts “not lie” when the slave-trade was a societal norm starting 1444, eventually making its way in 1619 to the New World when African slaves were brought to Jamestown against their will and despite their dignity? Did facts “not lie” when the New England slave trade began in 1638? Did “the facts” continue to uphold their value of truth in 1662 when Virginia established a law that Black girls were to be slaves if their mothers had been slaves (thus inevitably continuing slavery for every generation)? How true and virtuous were “the facts” in 1787 when the constitution was written, but failed to include the male and female of African descent because they were not considered persons (as seen in the Dred Scott case in 1857)?

I wonder what the “facts” sounded like when James Reeb was attacked in Selma? Facts that allowed all three White men arrested for his murder to be acquitted by an all White jury. In one’s haste to defend the facts, do we ever ask ourselves if they were honest in 1963 when officers forced two Black prisoners to beat Fannie Lou Hamer to near death for being a nonviolent activist? Did the facts “not lie” when student rioting occurred to prevent Black students from integrating the University of Georgia in 1961? Did the “facts” help Emmett Till or in any way affect the 1999 police execution of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed man shot at 41 times with 19 striking him as he tried to present his wallet for identification? All four officers were acquitted of charges in that presentation of “facts”. How about Rodney King? Or what about the time the “facts” acquitted O.J. Simpson? I do not remember many of my brothers and sisters siding with those facts. I have not even made it to the names of unarmed Black men killed in recent years and it is already clear that “facts” may not be the standard of truth as they are so often proclaimed.

We live in a world of imperfection where the “facts” lie all of the time. And historically, “facts”––as it pertains to the justice system––have been insurmountable barriers for the African American. The reality that people are trying to perpetuate “facts” as being without flaw, or that the people who present those facts are infallible is what stings in the heart of many African Americans. We live in a country, historically and currently, that has gotten it wrong continuously on behalf of the male and female of African descent. Screaming, “Look at the facts!” to a people whose entire legacy is the fruit of hundreds of years of “facts” is ignorant and insensitive, at best, to their inherent value, heritage, and progression as an oppressed people group. Supporting a flawed system with a statement of “absolute” when the absolute has proven to be fallible is and will continue to be highly offensive, callous, and plain uneducated to those of color. It will never bring unity.

My Prayer Is For Fire

That’s why I hope Ferguson and other places like it burn with a passion to love one another despite ‘the facts.’ I pray for a fire that only Jesus can set ablaze in the hearts of men and women across the lines of color. He is the only one with the ability to truly unite us and put an end to this historical cancer of devaluing others in thought, action, and systems. Jesus who loves us, not just in thought but in action, in the living and breathing space of our ignorance, violence, and heinousness, frees us as individuals to love our neighbors despite our cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Government cannot and will not bring forth legislation that moves Americans to value the life of humans—especially those they perceive as a “threat.” So many lives have been lost over the years, and the value of life for our fellow man is another casualty.

The years of 1444, 1619 and 1638 may seem far away to some, but the denigration of Blacks in those times has carried itself through slavery, emancipation, Jim Crow and just a few short decades into today’s justice system. The thread of depreciation has woven together a garment that blankets the voices of color to this day.

On the streets and in the courtrooms of many cities, Blacks and Whites in America are not yet on a level playing field. Changing laws haven’t so quickly modified the centuries-long foundation that the American justice system and its supporters have laid for determining the value of African Americans. History shows us that legislation will never cause one’s heart to burn with value for another. The history of false hopes is repeating itself. We get so frustrated at the outcomes, and rightly so—frustration shows what we care about—but we continue to hope in something that has continually proven itself biased and flawed nonetheless. Speaking to my brothers and sisters who think life is about facts alone, one would say, historically the facts lie all the time. You wonder why there is looting and protesting? Well, some are ignorant, selfish and plain evil in their looting. However, there are others who fleshing out intelligent protesting because some people would rather die while sending a message than to live undignified, trusting in a system that historically continues to present “facts” that deny equal value for those of color.

Charles Lynch wrote, “If we cannot live as people, we will at least try to die like men.” The heart’s truth of the matter is that people from all lines of color are born with value. And when people don’t feel that value, they will cry out in the best available manner and medium. Burning down another’s business out of hate to prove a point is senseless, forgettable and cold. However, burning with love so much it consumes one’s heart despite the evil and injustice that has been fleshed out upon you is a revolution we have yet to see.

I hope Jesus sets this entire nation on fire with love for one another. I hope he burns this entire nation down to the ground with love for one another because without a heart burning to see God-given value in every man—not just individually but fleshed out through our systems as well—this will continue on and on as it has to this day. We will repeatedly find ourselves enraged by outcomes of this nature, expecting actions to arise where there is no value of love in the hearts of man for all of humankind. Until our hearts burn with the desire at every level to enact true justice, empathy, and sympathy, the devalued will burn down Ferguson—and America with it.

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Adam Thomason is the CEO/co-founder of Collision Records an indie Hip-hop label. He led the branding and team that saw their first four retail albums debut on billboard. Adam has his undergrad in Fashion Design and is pursuing his Doctorate in Education.

  • siege44

    Not to dismiss your ultimate point, but, no the facts didn’t lie in any of those cases. The facts may have been misreported, misapplied, or misunderstood, but facts by definition are truth and truth by definition is not a lie.
    There has never been a time where it has been a “fact” that people of any race are lesser then people of any other race. It may have been accepted as a fact, but you and I would agree that that was a lie.
    A Christian’s duty is to defend the truth, that’s why we stand against racism – it’s a fact that such bigotry is evil.
    Brother, I will stand with you to defend that fact, even if we disagree that the tragedy in Ferguson is a data point that supports the idea of institutional racism.
    I disagree that Michael Brown’s tragic death was an example of how black lives don’t matter, I think Wilson was justified in defending himself, but I ardently believe that black lives do matter, and if Wilson was proven to be a cop with racial bias I would call for his indictment and punishment as loud as anyone.
    All that being said, I love your last paragraph, and that is my hope as well.
    Grace and Peace

    • ADThomason

      Thank you for engaging the article. The point about facts is this. Facts cannot be seen as infallible. One, because they are not, two they come from men and women who are not. Facts can’t be absolute to the equivalent as God. I know you would agree with that, but the way people parade facts seems to suggest different. The article is calling for us not to hope in facts on either side, but Jesus who is the only one purely without flaw.