Thanks a lot, Ferguson. You've, like, ruined Facebook for me.

Did you even think of how this might affect my life, Ferguson?

I've got to say, you have greatly disrupted my peace of mind. (Or the illusion of such a thing. I was perfectly happy pretending it was truth.) Ever since you came along, the veil has been pulled back, and the hearts and minds of those in my inner, outer, and distant circles on Facebook have been exposed.

I think I was happier when I didn’t know what people really thought about stuff.

I didn’t really want to know that that nice girl from way-back thinks that Michael deserved to get shot: that he’d have been “toast” if it had been her in the squad car. It didn't matter what race he was. He punched a cop: end of story. And puh-lease, this is so not a story about race.

How do I keep my heart open towards the white male acquaintance who, on a friend’s thread, was seething about losing a job to a less qualified black man because of that pesky affirmative action. Injustice stings, doesn’t it? I offered. How does it feel to be invisible?  The return to racial equality is bound to inconvenience the white man a little bit. He struck back by hashtagging me: #brainwashed. And there I sat for a while, absorbing this shocking weirdness that had just transpired between me and a dude I barely even knew.

I'm not sure I really wanted to know how many people in my life say (and mean), We have a black president, now. How racist can we be?

Facebook is supposed to be about videos of cats knocking shit over, Ferguson.

Wait, that other guy said WHAT on my wall? Him? No Way! But he’s so nice! Did he say those things about me? Specifically?  No? Okay. Phew. No, we’re good, man. I didn’t think you’d say that to me. It’s a heavy issue, brother. No hard feelings. For real.

See? This is part of the problem, Ferguson. You have no neutrality. The edges of your blade cut everyone so deeply. There are no surface wounds in this battle.

Even those of us on the same side can’t seem to agree with how to deal with you. Allies are at each other’s throats on my Facebook feed, drawing swords and doing battle over where to even lay the boundaries of the battleground on which we fight for racial and economic equality.

If we even fight at all. There are a lot of people staying out of the conversation. It’s a lot of heat to bear. And many have opted out, citing that the chances for real change are dismal. I’ve seen that a lot on Facebook, too: expressions of hopelessness in the aftermath of Ferguson.

One word, Ferguson: Memes.

Oh, and suddenly I’m the girl who can’t shut up about Ferguson. I’m one of THOSE people on Facebook. I can hear it now:

There’s JA. AGAIN. Yeesh. Please don’t tell me she’s going on, again, about how making someone’s dad use separate bathrooms and only sit in the back of the bus really messed things up?  Not the old “cumulative effect of racism and poverty” argument.  OMG, she did NOT cite that Atlantic article again about the Federal Housing Authority having created ghettos on the south side of Chicago with their racist housing policies, did she? Jeez. That was like 60 years ago. We've come a long way since then. Wake up, JA. It's 2014. This is about thugs behaving badly. Period. And stay out of everyone's posts!

Two words, Ferguson: Buzzfeed quizzes.

I’m probably going to lose Facebook friends because of you, Ferguson, if I haven't already. I was already pretty good at losing friends on my own. I didn’t really need your help.

Facebook used to be a place where I could connect to a lot of people in a superficial way. No one really had to know what I truly believed in. It was so great! And now you’ve gone and blown that up. I’m exposed, now. I have taken a side in a very public way, and on an extremely volatile subject. I’m uncomfortable.

For my part, I have consciously decided not to de-friend anyone in response to their beliefs about you.  I am determined to not be the one who silences those who enrage me by making them disappear. Facebook invisibility doesn’t make anything truly go away.

I have made the choice to let people be where they are, and to stretch myself thin with love and acceptance, even if some of my Facebook friends are acting like a-holes about the whole thing.

So you know, I’m not the best at taking a stand. I operate solely from my relatively shallow pool of wisdom from a life lived out loud. I’m not one too enamored with  statistics or social theory. I don’t believe possibility is tied to either.

So does that make me an advocate, or a big-mouth?

Bang….. Bang. …..Bang….. Bang…..Bang.

**blogger looks up from her keyboard**

Uh, did you hear that?

It sounded like it came from the street in front of my condo.

What was it? The Fourth of July was a long time ago, dude. Illegal fireworks have long been detonated.

Was that gunfire?

It couldn’t have been. This neighborhood is family-friendly. Working class. Diverse. Not like that one neighborhood closer to the lake…

Wait. Why are those black guys running down the street? Were they part of what just happened, if anything even happened? Should I call the police?

And say what? No. I’m probably just being paranoid. I won’t let the Facebook haters win! I won’t be pulled to the dark side.

But, what if …

What if shootings became a common thing around here? Just because I’m sympathetic to the cause doesn’t make me immune to danger.

What if I eventually witnessed gang activity firsthand. What if I became afraid to leave my home? Would I be less sympathetic towards the lawbreakers? Would I be less tolerant of bad behavior? Would I think their defiance unjustifiable?

I think twice before peering out the blinds, again. I am powerless against the sensational image in my mind: of being struck through the window by a stray bullet.  “Friendly fire” in the war against poverty and racism.

Oh, come on. Pull yourself together, JA.

Would a hatred fester and grow in my heart if I lived in constant fear?

Where is the line between indulging in a prejudicial stereotype, and that of legitimate fear?

I have a young son to protect. Would I leave? Racists don’t move away from a dangerous neighborhood. Parents do, right?

Right?

Would I mimic the white flight I scoff at in the history books? Could it be that those white families were fleeing from a fear similar to the one that is in my hands as I lock the bolt on my door? For that matter, does it even matter if the threat was real or not, if they truly believed in their hearts that they were protecting their families?

Am I racist for even thinking this way?

Oh, just great, Ferguson. First you ruin my Facebook feed. Now you are making me question everything. Thanks a lot.

***

That is my piece, and that is my peace.

Thank you for taking the time to read my silly words. It means the world. Carry on…

Old Single Mom

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