“The whole city is like the bar, Cheers.” This was the description given by Ferguson, Missouri Mayor, James W. Knowles III on the April 24, 2014 Ferguson History Video posted on the City of Ferguson website.
I was a “Cheers” devotee; and, although I am a teetotaler, I would gladly grab a bar seat at Cheers. But, would I want to become a resident of Ferguson, Missouri — a city where, apparently, “hands up don’t shoot,” carries no weight (if witness accounts are accurate) — well, no. Would I want my son in Ferguson, Missouri — well, no.
Why do I feel so strongly about Ferguson, Missouri. The easy answer is that I am the Black mother of a young Black man. There is, also, a more complex answer– an answer that I imagine is shared by all people of good will throughout our vast country.
Ferguson, Missouri reminds us of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Emmett Till. Ferguson, Missouri makes us question our role in the world. Ferguson, Missouri makes us think of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. It makes us wonder how we can advise others. It makes us wonder why the Yazidis would trust us to come to their rescue. It makes us wonder if some Yazidis would rather stay on the Sinjar Mountains because they just do not trust us.
Flight attendants instruct us on how to handle a loss of oxygen on an airplane. They tell us that if there is a loss off oxygen, an air mask will drop down. If we are traveling with young children or someone who needs help, we are instructed to put on our own oxygen mask first. We can take a breath, then share our oxygen with others.
A police officer in Ferguson, Missouri cut off Michael Brown’s oxygen less than a month after a New York City police officer cut off oxygen to Eric Garner with an illegal choke hold. These young men were not allowed to breathe.
And, now, we are all holding our breath. And, people of good will throughout the United States are wondering how we can possibly help others have life (breathe), liberty (freedom from tyranny), and the pursuit of happiness (a seat at Cheers).