By now the world has seen the photo of Mike Brown, Sr. crying in anguish as his son’s casket is being lowered into the ground. Funerals and burials are for the living. There is a finality to the closing of the casket and its lowering into a big hole in the ground. I experienced that finality when my father died and then 5 years later when my mother died. In both instances, despite their having lived almost 9 decades it still hurt to sit at their gravesides and see their remains taken away from us forever.
As excruciating as my parents’ deaths were they would be nothing if I had to compare them to the loss of one of my children.
One of the articles I read said that Mike Brown’s mother cries all the time. Of course she cries all the time. Her son is not entering college…he is entering his final rest. At 18 years of age his life is over and some how his parents are supposed to carry on with their lives.
In another newscast I saw Mike Brown’s mother, Leslie McSpadden, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Sean Bell’s mother, Valerie Bell sitting together. All I could think was, “That has to be the worst sorority any woman could be a part of.” The mothers had not only lost their sons to early deaths, they lost them to violent deaths at the hands of people who were supposed to “serve and protect” (even George Zimmerman and his neighborhood watch gig). (Earlier this summer I was on a panel with Lucy McBath, mother of Jordan Davis the young man shot dead in a car at a gas station because his music was “too loud!”)
Right now Mike Brown’s family is still surrounded by the media and plenty of family and well-wishers but soon people will return to their homes and their everyday lives. Leslie McSpadden and Mike Brown, Sr. will have year after year of not being able to celebrate their son’s birthday. They will have year after year of Christmases, New Years’, Easters’, Family Reunions, 4th of July picnics, Labor Days, and beginning of the new school year without their son. When parents of Mike’s friends brag about their sons’ and daughters’ accomplishments McSpadden and Brown will have to congratulate them while feeling the emptiness of not having their own stories to share.
The shooting of Mike Brown, Jr. has sparked a movement of activism and interest in stopping police brutality and abuse against people of color. People of all races, classes, and ages have flooded the streets of Ferguson, MO to protest what happened to Mike and people in cities and towns throughout the nation. On the opposite side people have declared Mike Brown, Jr. to be a thug, a robber, and the aggressor in the confrontation between him and Officer Wilson. Mike Brown Jr. has become a symbol on both sides. But at the end of the day this is a story of a family that lost a son, a grandson, a brother, and a cousin. Despite the heat and light surrounding the Mike Brown shooting the bottom line is an 18-year-old is dead. I can only hope that you never bury a child!
Stay Smart & Black!