I listened to the St. Louis prosecutor's decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Mike Brown last night, and I was stunned. I think I knew what the verdict would be all week as I saw photos of police kitted out in military gear and listened to appeals for calm that only raised suspicions, but I wanted so badly to believe that there was still the possibility of a trial. The whole world was watching. Maybe that would prevent a blatant miscarriage of justice and the inevitable rage that would spill out of the wounded community of Ferguson as a result.
But no. Prosecutor McConnell gave his speech, rubbed salt in the wounds, and we watched the live stream of protestors and media choking on tear gas while other people rioted.
I want to write on and on about this, but I know the more words I write, the less they will mean. Besides, Roxane Gay is more eloquent, anyway.
When things like this happen, I want to do something more than write. Sitting at my computer retweeting people's links and photos only stirs me into a frenzy of despair. I want not to feel hopeless and powerless. I want to ease people's pain. So, I'm doing the only thing I can, which is to try to dig up ways to help, even though right now everything I do feels like walking through a room blindfolded. I don't know what will actually make things better. I have to think the only thing any of us can do is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and pray we're going the right way.
This week, I'm going to be taking part in each of the following efforts. Maybe you can, too. Maybe you know of other ways to help you can share in the comments here.
Author Joelle Charbonneau is urging authors to send signed copies of their books to the Ferguson Library to show their support. (And as a librarian myself, I can say I'm sure they wouldn't mind some extras of other good books, too.) Joelle writes,
Fellow authors – I ask you to join with me in sending hope to Ferguson through signed books. The Ferguson Library is doing amazing work to help the young people in their community. An interview with director Scott Bonner gives a glimpse into their efforts. We can help them do more. We all know that sometimes it takes just the right story to make the difference. Let’s send them as many as we can so each child can find the one that speaks to them.
Speaking of the Ferguson Library, they have been reaching out to the community and doing some amazing things, like giving kids a place to go when the local schools are closed due to unrest. You can donate on their main page (above) via Paypal.
Instead of shopping this Friday, this hashtag movement is encouraging people to go out and protest police brutality and killings. Click the link above for more information, including events near you. Wouldn't it be nice to spend that money at black-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday, instead?
Justice is never going to come without education. We have to teach kids and teens empathy. We have to remind them that they have worth, even if the past days' news makes them think otherwise. We have to show them that there is no "other." (And we adults could use a refresher on that lesson, too.) Literature is one of the best ways to do this. Donate to We Need Diverse Books to help fund classroom instruction and support for diverse writers so that more diverse literature is available in the future.