As I see you… I simply see you. I acknowledge you. Ultimately, the simplicity of that basic human interaction is integral to the change you have been chosen to ignite. I, a blue-eyed white woman living 1,000 miles away from Ferguson Missouri, see you, a young black teenage boy. I see you.
As I see you… I see a boy, really a man-child, standing at the crossroads between the child he once was and the man he is about to become.
As I see you… I see hope and possibility for the future. A future that days, before your fatal encounter with Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the middle of Canfield Drive, seemed teeming with boundless possibility.
As I see you… I imagine the child filled with larger than life personality you once were. I see the son, brother, nephew, friend, grandchild, student. I wish others could simply see you as a son, brother, friend before they see anything else about you.
As I see you… I see pride. The pride of a young man who defied the odds and graduated from a high school not known for successful graduation rates.
As I see you… I see the 12-year-old boy you once were. I see all the 12-year-old boys I have taught and mentored in Boston’s after school programs. As I see you… I am painfully aware that any one of the boys I have taught and grown to love and care for could be you breathing his last breaths on the hot asphalt his body riddled with bullets has collapsed on.
As I see you… I see what they want to make you into in order to justify your execution by an on-duty Ferguson police officer. Thug, hoodlum, demon, drug dealer, destined for failure, bully, undesirable black boy. I denounce their character assassination while pointing out even a drug-dealing thug does not deserve to be shot repeatedly with deadly force.
As I see you… I see all that is wrong with the America young black boys like you, Mike, must learn to navigate. I see how young boys and men of color are first viewed as a problem, a threat before ever being viewed as human.
As I see you… I see the human casualty of America’s racism.
I see you.
This post was inspired by the As I See You exhibit curated as part of the Michael Brown Memorial Weekend organized by Mike’s father and stepmother Michael Brown, Sr. and Cal Brown and the Michael Brown Chosen For Change Foundation.