Pin It

As the citizens of Ferguson, MO try to dig out from under the dust and the rubble of unrest, there has been a lot of talk about why the beleaguered city’s residents feel so disenfranchised and so restless. Many monitoring the events there over the last few weeks have wondered why Ferguson is nearly 70% Black but yet has a White mayor and only one Black city council member. The police force is also dominated by White officers.

These statistics have been used by a lot of talking heads as proof that the racial disparities in Ferguson are systemic and the cause for all the unrest and violence. Residents in the largely Black city don’t feel represented. They don’t feel their problems are being taken seriously by their leaders. They are angry and the Brown shooting gave rise to that anger that has bubbling under the surface for a long time.

The problem is that Blacks aren’t showing up to vote. Only about 12% of eligible residents showed up to cast a vote in the last municipal elections. According to MSNBC the numbers were even worse in 2012 (8.9%) and 2013 (11.7%) It makes me wonder what percentage of Black Ferguson residents showed up to riot and/or protest.

And we certainly did see quite a lot of passionate protesting, and even more violence. The people of Ferguson were fired up and angry. As I was watching the footage and listening to all the concern over the racial make-up of the local government I couldn’t help but think, “Why do we always let the thugs be the first ones to show up?” It’s embarrassing to watch brothers and sisters tearing up their own neighborhoods, their own streets, destroying their own business, stealing from their own people. These punks don’t represent all of us. Hell, they hardly represent any of us, and yet its their ugly mugs plastered all over television reports and blogs.

They get on television because they show up. Matt Kibbe of Freedomworks always says, “Government goes to those who show up.” That also goes for national news reporting. Haven’t you ever wondered why when something bad happens in the ‘hood the news crew always seems to find the dumbest person to interview? Sure there are dumb people in the ‘hood. Dumb people are everywhere. But not everyone in the ‘hood is dumb. The dumb people are the ones not smart enough to get out of dodge when things get shady. They hang around, waiting to see what else might pop off. The dumb people are showing up, so they’re getting interviewed.

In Ferguson, the thugs showed up. The thugs got the attention. The thugs set the narrative.

The rest of us are left scratching our heads about how a city like Ferguson could get it so wrong for the very people they serve.

This might not be a popular opinion, but it’s not the White mayor or the White police officers who are responsible for Blacks feeling underrepresented in their own city. Its us – Black folks. Its our fault. Ferguson is just a microcosm of a larger issue in our national community. We’re not showing up. We’re letting the thugs and the dumb-dumbs grab the attention when the heat gets turned up, but we could stop all that before it even started simply by showing up at the right times.

Is Ferguson’s police force mostly White because of racism, or because fewer Black people are showing up for the jobs? If we want to see a better representation of our race in municipal services we need to start showing up for the jobs, and being good enough to get them. Is Ferguson’s mayor White because of racism or because Black people didn’t show up to vote? A 12% voter turnout in the last city election pretty much answers that question. If Black people want to see a Black mayor, or at least a mayor who seems more sympathetic to the racial tensions of Ferguson then they need to start showing up.

Jesse Jackson and several other groups have hosted voter registration drives in Ferguson, hoping to capitalize on all the unrest. Many on the Right have been skeptical and even angry about these attempts, claiming these are just schemes to register more Democrat voters. They may be right, but at least they’re encouraging the good people of Ferguson to show up in positive ways that make a difference and don’t cost millions in community damages.

If Republicans are so concerned about Democrat voter drives in Ferguson they need to get out there too and start talking to people about the importance of exercising their right to vote. Show up!

Let’s stop letting the thugs and the thieves be the first guys to show up in a crisis. Let’s deny them even the chance. The Ferguson residents aren’t alone. Many of us across the country want to see more representation for Black Americans in government – but we’re the only people who can make that happen…and it starts with showing up.

*Follow Kira Davis on Twitter @KiraAynDavis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.