I was afraid I would finish this project “too late,” and that’s part of the problem. The issues thrust into the public eye recently regarding race, militarization (and lack of accountability) of the police, and flagrant infringement of First Amendment rights are made all the worse by the fact that the public eye is not one that’s been known to linger in any one direction. The public eye is easily distracted; public consciousness is quick to forget. (Kareem Abdul-Jabaar has thoughts on this.)
What could I say about the events earlier this month in Ferguson, Missouri that wasn’t already being said? I was struck by the same deep sadness and hollowing disappointment that seemed to be afflicting so much of the nation. The reality of the vast sea of injustice that washes over our country (and the world) on a daily basis felt overwhelming at times, but I didn’t have a way, or even desire really, to put all my feelings into words.
I was listening to Arcade Fire the other day and happened upon a cover of their song “The Suburbs” that gripped me instantly. Chilling female vocals carried the down-tempo melody across synths that were eerie and piercing, adding a haunting quality to the song while maintaining the original’s strong sense of disillusionment. The video for the original, if you’re not familiar, is a thought-provoking Spike Jonze work in which teenagers’ lives in familiar North American suburbs get disrupted by neighborhood warfare and military presence. (Definitely worth a watch.)
I couldn’t help being reminded of the video as I scrolled through the day’s collection of Ferguson stories, photos, and videos with Mr Little Jeans‘ cover on repeat in my headphones. Spike Jonze’s vision of a fictional suburban warzone was only a step beyond what was happening in a very real American town, and I felt compelled to make something of that notion:
There was no shortage of material for the video; the stuff I chose was primarily sourced from KARG Argus Radio’s LiveStream of the event, the New York Times article Ferguson Images Evoke Civil Rights Era & Changing Visual Perceptions (terrific photographs in that one, too), the Tweets and Vines comprising the boingboing.net feature Ferguson: Militarized police use force against protesters, arrest journalists, and Charlie LeDuff’s “This Is Not What Michael Brown Would Want.”
Other items I found of particular interest were the VICE News coverage, What I Did After Police Killed My Son on politico.com, Ferguson From Afar: How the World Sees the Protests on foreignaffairs.com, and of course, Twitter’s entire #Ferguson record. You’ve probably seen John Oliver’s take.
Melissa Harris-Parry’s Searing Tribute to Black Men Killed By Police was probably the most heart-wrenching as it demonstrated the degree to which this is not an isolated incident. It’s not an isolated incident, and it’s not something that deserves to be forgotten. We need some real change.