Mike Brown’s Death Gave Me Life

The story of Mike Brown came to me on Twitter. I saw his name trending, read the thousands of tweets that centered him, and felt an indescribable rage burning inside of me that I didn’t remember feeling before.

That rage is one that I can’t — to this day — explain, but I know it’s foundation was (and still is) in exhaustion. A few weeks before Mike Brown’s murder, Eric Garner, the asthmatic father of six who died by way of an aggressive and prohibited chokehold applied by NY’s finest, still weighed heavy on my consciousness.

Trayvon Martin’s death was still with me, especially as his killer continued to parade in front of media outlets that clamored to every indiscretion he orchestrated and was responsible for.

I was exhausted.

I was exhausted in knowing that my brilliant, beautiful People were perpetuately locked in the underclass, denied the right to exist, and were the constant target of government, police units, and multinational corporations who systematically collude to bolster a decrepit and volatile anti-Black prison and criminal justice industry for grotesque profit.

I was exhausted in explaining institutional and structural racism — an enormous mechanism made invisible by a dense coffer of laws, policies, regulations, and bureaucracies — to folks who did not care to learn or listen because they were so invested in the anti-Black status quo.

My rage propelled me to action.

At work, I spontaneously decided to journey to Ferguson. With no plan, savings, or misgivings, I told my boss I would be out for a week, and began coordinating my travel and housing plans.

My friends and family were worried. They had seen the armored vehicles, the militarized personnel, and the pepper spray, and were concerned about my safety and well-being. I wasn’t. But to mollify their worry, I began looking for people who, too, were headed to Ferguson.

Black Lives Matter transformed my life.

A sizable Black Lives Matter cohort from the Northeast was headed to Ferguson. I reached out and immediately, I knew these were people I could journey with, learn from, and fight alongside. In what has now been proclaimed as the Freedom Ride to Ferguson, national caravans convened on the embattled St. Louis-area city with passion, resistance, and willingness.

The 21-hour bus ride was the first time I was in an exclusive Black space. The conversations we had, the tears we cried, the hugs and kisses and love we gave to one another, was something I did not know I had the right to experience.

Visiting the exact spot Mike Brown was mercilessly gunned down was traumatizing and healing all the same. As I wailed, I screamed out to my ancestors and begged their forgiveness in believing the whitewashed revisionist version of their beings that was force-fed to me. I screamed out to my People, and committed to Loving Us with no apologies or compromise. I screamed out the future, to the unknown, to the unheard. I screamed out to Black Justice, Liberation, and Freedom, and was ready to see it through.

Ferguson healed my Blackness.

One year since Mike Brown’s passing, I have become clear.

I have sharpened my pro-Black politic, have concretized my racial and social justice analyses, and have come to some stark conclusions in regards to race, racism, and race relations.

Respectability politics will not save us.

One does not need to join an organization to bring about socioeconomic and political change.

Never underestimate the power of social media.

Building grassroots relationships are key to Liberation.

Black women are the lowest on the racial totem pole, and Black transgender women are chained to the absolute bottom rung.

All people, but white people the most, are conditioned to anti-Blackness. People either unlearn it, suppress it, or embrace it.

White liberals can be racist. 

I prioritize global unity with non-Black people of color before I will a white ally.

Everybody demands Black labor, but very few labor for Black lives. 

Mike Brown’s death gave me Life — pro-Black Life. Life that centers him, and me, and our People in ways that we’ve never been centered before.

Mike Brown’s death gave me Clarity — I know what my purpose it, what role I will play.

Mike Brown’s death gave me Rage — A Black Rage that I will never apologize for.

Mike Brown’s death gave me Family — a collective or organizers and activists who allow me to be free in my  pro-Black expression.

*Feature Image Credit: www.mashable.com


photo 1Arielle Newton, Founder/Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @arielle_newton. Get at us @BlkMillennials.


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