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Because I Am Sick And I Am Tired, And I Want You To Be Sick And Tired With Me - A Guide To Understanding Ferguson

By TK Burton | Think Pieces | November 25, 2014 |

By TK Burton | Think Pieces | November 25, 2014 |

I am paralyzed.

In the wake of the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, I am paralyzed. By fear and anger and hurt and frustration. I’m paralyzed by confusion and sadness and disappointment. I’m all of those things, even though I’m not particularly surprised. The entire affair was, to many people, utterly predictable. The shooting itself was predictable. The anger and unrest was predictable. The response. The wait. The grand jury, and its decision. The response, yet again. The actions of those who raged through the night, and the misdirected judgment towards them. The condescending finger wagging. Those who simply do not understand what the men, women, and children of Ferguson are feeling, and why they are so angry. Every single minute of this script was completely and totally predictable.

And yet, when I think about it, I am paralyzed, because I simply no longer know what to do, how to react, what to say. What more is there to say? Black men are twenty-one times more likely to be shot by the police than white men. A black woman was sentenced to three years in prison for firing a gun and not hitting anyone. The fact that white-on-white crime is almost equal to black-on-black crime, yet the former is never discussed (Note to all the white people terrified of the darkies coming to rob/murder/rape your family. The biggest threat to white people has always been, and will always be other white people). What more can I say? We can shout these things from the rooftops, but it’s still hard to make people understand the feelings and anger and hurt that drives a community like Ferguson to react as it has, with frustration and rage and fury and fire (even if the fire is vastly overreported).

Well, this is a film and entertainment site. And so, as I sit paralyzed and not knowing what to say, perhaps I can use film and entertainment to try to explain just what I am feeling, and just how we got here, and why this has happened, and sadly, why it will happen again. Here are ten movies that can help us understand Ferguson:

12 Years A Slave

Because this is how it all began, and even when black men were free, they weren’t free.

Do The Right Thing

Because riots don’t happen in a vacuum. It is based on tension and anger and racism and generations of discontent and misunderstanding. Don’t judge the action while dismissing the root causes. They’re equally important.

The Great White Hope

Because even when black men succeed, sometimes they are brought down simply because of their success.

Malcolm X

Because we should never forget that the loudest, most powerful voices are too often silenced by violence.

Mississippi Burning

Because the quest for civil rights came after unbelievable obstacles and with bloody costs, and that should never be forgotten. And because this scene destroys me every single time.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Because sometimes a trial is so much more than a trial.

American History X

Because we need to understand racism in order to fight it, and sometimes the way to understand it is to see it through the eyes of the racist.

In The Heat Of The Night

Because no one should have to stand there and take it.

Fruitvale Station

Because this is how it happens.

Blazing Saddles

Because if I don’t end it like this, I’ll end up weeping.

You can email TK here, or follow him on Twitter at @TKhatesyou.