By KC Wise
I’ve been following the #Ferguson feed incredibly closely, and have been so grateful for the excellent coverage of journalists and bloggers who’ve been giving us information from every angle. Through it all, some are asking what Black politicians can do about police brutality.
What can any and all politicians do about police brutality in America?
In my last post, I wrote that when White Women in this country mourn en masse, people are dragged before Congress, investigations at every level of government are called for, anniversaries are marked every year, and the entire country holds its breath for a hot minute. All I kept hearing about during the 2012 election and now this 2014 mid-term election is that all-important White Woman voting bloc. If White women care about it, politicians fall all over themselves to talk about that.
I’m a home-owning, suburban dwelling, tax-paying, politically active Black mother of two. Ain’t I a woman? Ain’t I a voting citizen? Don’t my vote count for somethin’?
As a matter of fact, I’m gonna get real specific: There is a gubernatorial race going on here in Massachusetts. There’s a lot of hot air from the left and right. But here’s what I want my next governor to tell me:
I want my next governor to tell me that police intimidation and brutality is not acceptable in this state.
I want my next governor to tell me that racial profiling in any form is not acceptable in this state.
I want my next governor to tell me that Black Male Bodies are not criminalized in this state.
I want my next governor to tell me that what is happening in Ferguson will not happen here under his/her watch. (That means no unarmed civilians shot by trigger-happy cops and no military response to peaceful demonstrations.)
I want my next governor to tell me, as a Black woman and as a Black mother, that they understand it when I say that I fear for my two sons. I want them to tell me that my fears are important to them, and that my fear calls them to action. I want my governor to know that when I’m fearing for my sons, I’m going to be calling them. And sending them letters. And will be picketing in front of the State House. And laying my fear at their feet and will not let them rest until they have allayed them. I want my Governor to think about the Black Woman lobby the way they think about the Unions, or the Chamber of Commerce, or whoever else is big and bad in government. I want my governor to always wonder, “What are Black women going to think about my decisions?”
That goes for my senators (I see you Elizabeth Warren and your very late, fairly weak Facebook statement). That goes for my Congresswoman (Why so quiet, Niki Tsongas?). That will go for my next President (I see you, Hillary).
If you’re a politician who can say these things to me with sincerity and integrity, I will give you my vote. I don’t care what color you are, what class you’re in, or what party you belong to. If you’re a politician who can look at Ferguson and turn to the Black Mothers of your state and say, “Not here. Not under my watch. Not ever, and here’s how,” and offer concrete, actionable, sensible plans to back it up, then you deserve my vote.
That’s my benchmark. Let’s call it The Ferguson Standard. Let anything less be unacceptable. Anything less. Because Black Women vote, ya’ll. Matter of fact, we have a better turn-out rate than our White counterparts.
There are not enough Black political leaders to stop this crisis purely through their powerful positions. Our President included.
We need allied public officials who will not vote to strengthen the police industrial complex, cultivate the military weapons pipeline, or institute laws like Stand Your Ground and three-strikes. We need allied public officials who will not disenfranchise us.
We need to vote in our own where we can. Especially in places like Ferguson. But we need to empower those who would work with us where we can’t. Because we can’t control every office at every level.
We need to stop deciding to choose the lesser of two evils, or the devil we know, and instead exercise our own powerful voting bloc. Let our mourning, our anger, our fears ring out and reach those who walk the halls of power. Let Ferguson be the rallying cry for our rise from invisible to undeniable and unstoppable.
K.C. Wise is a married Millennial Mom raising two bi-racial (B/W) boys in suburban Massachusetts. You can find out her thoughts about mothering, homemaking, writing, renovating a 100 year-old farmhouse and other musings at her blog: blackbunchedmassmom.wordpress.com.