Anyone who reads Mrs Fringe or knows me in any other role knows I’m opinionated. If you know me well or agree with a lot of my thoughts, you might say I’m passionate. If you don’t, you might think ugh, that Mrs Fringe is such a bitch, I wish she would shut up already. But the quote I used for my high school yearbook said something like, “It often shows a fine command of the English language to say nothing.” I’m certain there were quite a few classmates surprised by that one, because I never shut up back then. I had to get kicked in the the teeth by life a few dozen more times before I really learned it. While I believe in the truth of that quote even more than I did back then, I still believe in the power of words. Of having an informed opinion and not being afraid to share it, while understanding opinion is not the same as fact.
Obvious, right? I mean, I’m a blogger ferchristssake. I think. Can I call myself a blogger if I don’t earn any money from it? Maybe it’s more like my fiction, where until and unless I’m published I prefer to say I write than I’m a writer. Fine. I blog.
Do I still opine too much? Probably. I’m not special, an expert in anything, or even formally educated. Who am I for anyone to take my opinions seriously? I’ve even been quiet on the writers’ forum. I’m not a grammar whiz (my unholy love of commas is well documented) and if I knew what made for publishable writing I’d be published.
In my little corner of Fringeland these days, most people I know are having opinions and sharing them; talking about racism, police, Eric Garner, Ferguson, protests and riots and what’s going on in our world right now. Yes, our world. Not just our city, our state, or even our country. This is our humanity. Some aren’t talking. Some are too genuinely busy with more personal crises, and some don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss these issues, some can’t because of their employers. Some are tired of talking about it and seeing it on the TV. I stand by what I said when I blogged about Ferguson–I think we need to talk about this. The grand jury’s decision in the Eric Garner case coming so closely on the heels of Ferguson is a clear illustration.
I’ll be the first one to say I don’t understand what happened with the Eric Garner case, don’t understand how anyone can see that video and say well, it’s a shame but that’s what happens when you resist arrest. Or he shouldn’t have been selling loosies. He wasn’t violent, not an immediate threat to anyone. I don’t understand how I’m seeing people argue that he didn’t die as a direct result of the chokehold placed on him. Every report I’ve seen says the medical examiner declared his death a homicide. Yes, his other medical issues were contributing factors, but not the cause. If any of my readers can cite a reputable source disputing this, please share a link.
Not all police are corrupt, or overzealous, or poorly trained. That doesn’t mean none are. Not all people are racist. That doesn’t mean none are. These things don’t balance each other out. Because police officers A and B came to the aid of persons of color C and D doesn’t mean police officer E didn’t harass person of color F. Or in too many cases, worse. And any number of these cases is too many. Police are human, yes. They deserve to be and keep themselves safe, absolutely. But something has gone wrong if they don’t feel confident they can peacefully defuse a situation and arrest someone who is unarmed and outnumbered.
I also don’t understand when I see people quote Martin Luther King while complaining about the protests occurring. Not talking about looters or violence, protestors. Just a little disconnect.
We have a problem, not “just” one rogue incident. The very fact that we have clear videotape of Eric Garner’s arrest and I’m still seeing such polarized responses shows our problem. But shelving the discussion? Being afraid to take a stand, have an opinion, because it might be uncomfortable? Because we’re tired of it? Because we don’t want to believe racism still exists in this country? That isn’t a fine command of the language.
I care, and I like knowing the other people in my world care, too. Our words do have power. And our opinions matter.