Editor's note: Danyelle Little and Janice Person are St. Louis neighbors and friends who traveled to Ferguson, Missouri together earlier this week. In this post, Danyelle tells her story first, and then Janice follows with her story.
DANYELLE LITTLE: YOU'LL FIND ME THERE
By now, you know the name Michael Brown. The events of August 9, 2014, have been discussed at length over the 10-plus days since he was shot and killed by a police officer. The community of Ferguson, Missouri has been rocked to the core, and as a resident of the St. Louis area, I feel there is a lot of work that needs to be done before we will be able to heal from this.
I do not understand how an 18-year-old jaywalking in the streets turned into such a tragedy. And perhaps we will never know the full story of what transpired during the last few minutes of Michael Brown’s life. But what I do know, as a mom of a young black man myself, is that the assault on them has got to stop. There are far too many stories in the news of black men getting killed when it wasn’t justified.
I’ve been making my feelings known about the Michael Brown shooting from day one. I’ve also been exercising my right to protest to demand more answers. When I protest, I usually go it alone and meet up with other regulars across from the Ferguson Police Department. But on Monday, I met up with a friend and fellow blogging colleague, so that we could pound the pavement together in unison.
Janice is white. I am black. We call ourselves Ebony and Ivory. We are different as night and day, as far as looks are concerned, but we have much more in common than one would imagine. We are kindred spirits bonded by an appetite for truth—and now, we are linked together forever, as two sisters who decided to march together for justice on the now-infamous West Florissant drag.
I joined in the chants of “no justice, no peace,” and Janice held her sign up proudly while taking photos of the atmosphere.
A couple accompanied us from Decatur, Illinois who, on their honeymoon, drove to Ferguson to show their support for Michael Brown. The four of us dove right in, getting in step with the other protestors. At one point, a young man handed us roses so that we could hold them up in Brown’s memory while marching. After a teenaged black girl saw our roses and proclaimed that she wanted one too, Janice handed her rose to her, which made the girl smile. And it made my heart dance, because Janice is just that type of chick; she's is cool like that. She is selfless, and has been that way since I met her several years ago.
During our time on the West Florissant strip, we were met with love and positivity, despite what you may have seen on the news. If I could only bottle up our experience and give it to others, then I could truly showcase how wonderful it was to feel that in some way, we were making a difference.
As of this writing, the police officer responsible for Michael’s death has still not been charged. And from what I hear, it may be awhile before that happens—IF it happens. Until then, you can find me, every other day or so, across the street from the Ferguson Police Department or on West Florissant, marching and demanding justice. And you just may see Janice right next to me, doing the same thing.
The search for the truth knows no color.
There is something missing in the news coverage of Ferguson, Missouri, that a few of us can see because we have been on the ground. There seems to be an interest in getting the big story out first, but everyday folks who are coming and going from Ferguson see and experience very different images and get very different feelings.
I have been a couple of times to “Ground Zero” recently. A few days ago, I went with my friend Danyelle—and I have to say, it was nice to be with a friend on my second trip, mainly because talking through what I see helps me process things.
So, what did "Ebony and Ivory" see on Monday?
Sure, we saw the big protests, and we participated. I even created a sign to remind people that we need to ask the big questions; not only about Michael Brown's death but also about how we as a society view and treat young black men. We saw the National Guard and Anderson Cooper. Clergy and the Black Panthers. There has been a lot written, but being there is nothing like what you may have seen on CNN, MSNBC, and the live streams.
What the media isn’t showing is the teacher I stood next to, who simply was asking for a better way for the kids in her community. Her son held a sign that gripped me as he simply asked "Am I next?" He looked so much like a kid my nephew grew up with. This is why I go to Ferguson—for the kids who have to worry about every move if they get stopped at the wrong place at the wrong time.
When you go to Ferguson, you will meet folks who will hop in a car with you because you know how to get from the police station to the looted Quik Trip. As we drove over, we were talking about this and that. Can you believe this young couple was in St Louis for their honeymoon? Yes, and they walked into our world, and into Danyelle's car!
The newlywed wife carefully selected her brightest and happiest clothes to wear for the day, and kept a matching neon sign overhead most of the day. We spent a couple of hours with them, and they were awesome.
As we walked down West Florissant in the 90-degree heat, a group of people walked by, breaking apart a case of water, offering bottles to others on the street.
Members of the clergy smiled and nodded. And we chatted with a mom who was trying to get home with her two young kids. She as dealing with the fact that traffic was severely limited in the neighborhood, and there were no buses for a mile or two.
This is Ferguson.
For most of the people I have met in Ferguson, this is a complicated story. They know justice and peace are intertwined, and they want both. I don't know that we can get the answers we are searching for, but I do know having folks like Danyelle and me out there, making ourselves heard, calling our elected officials and more, is a good start.
You don't have to go to Ferguson with Danyelle and me to have your voice heard alongside us! Make your voice heard and felt from wherever you are.
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