August 9th 2014 an unarmed Michael Brown Jr. was shot 6 times by police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. He was 18 years old, and he was set to start his first day of college. He died on the scene and his body was left in the street uncovered in the blazing sun for four and half hours. He was not the first and he will not be the last Black body to be dehumanized before it even hits the pavement.
Over the past decade Black Americans have mourned the lives of Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, and Renisha McBride, just to name a few, whose lives were cut short by the police or self elected vigilantes. Individuals who were not only White in complexion but diseased by the mentality that dark skin is and always will be threatening. The case of Michael Brown was not different in circumstance but something fortunate did come from his tragedy.
Our community was dealt a huge blow when George Zimmerman was acquitted in the case of Trayvon Martin. There were protest, but the general feeling seemed to be that of defeat. That what has been happening for decades now is just a norm of being Black in America. The environment surrounding the Mike Brown case was much different, protesters took to the street immediately and protested for over 90 days as they awaited the grand jury decision. During these protest the state of Missouri treated these mostly peaceful protest in similar fashion to the reaction soldiers have to terrorist. Military personnel were deployed to Ferguson where they shot tear gas into crowds, while the media looked on.
While mainstream outlets didn't document the events in Ferguson with an accurate lens many social media outlets provided coverage from activist that were in the heart of the conflict. This use of social media to distribute an honest narrative did something miraculous, it removed the veil. Not since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's has the world been concerned with what is happening to Black people in the United States. We had a platform, we created a movement. Finally our pain was witnessed and felt across the globe and protest were happening all over the world.
What the death of Mike Brown did, that others couldn't do was show this country, and the world alike that oppression is not singular to one group of people. that one parties oppression should not be compared to another, for we are all being denied basic human rights for one reason or another. Be it skin tone, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or gender bias. Mike Brown shined a very bright light on America's brand of oppression.
Young unarmed Black men are still dying at the hands of police officers, there have been nearly a dozen cases that have received some media coverage since Mike Brown was murdered. Following an investigation filled with misconduct and inconsistencies the grand jury chose not to indict Darren Wilson, pain turned to riots, and the people of Ferguson continue to fight. Things have not changed in America since August 9th, but at least now the world is paying attention.