Ferguson activist and hip-hop artist T-Dubb-O on what he calls the “hijacking” of Ferguson by outsiders. Originally published on Hands Up United.
The Ferguson uprising started the development of a revolution here in the United States. There is no question that Ferguson was much different and more radical than anything we’ve seen here in this country. A movement filled with young, black, oppressed, and fearless males and females who were unapologetic on their conquest for freedom. St. Louis, MO opened the door for factual conversations around racism and oppression in this country. The entire world watched and supported Ferguson, but that support did not reach the people of St. Louis, MO.
Many people ask how this happened in St. Louis. They asked what separated this incident from Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner. The answer is simple. You are dealing with a generation of black people who are completely fed up. St. Louis is always ranked amongst the top of the list for most dangerous U.S. cities every year. The lack of opportunity supports a crab in a bucket type of mentality amongst the people. Having one of the lowest minimum wages in the country and a lack of employment, it forces people to seek refuge in the black market strictly to survive. The school system fails the black community daily. Most students aren’t allowed to take home books because the schools don’t have enough for everybody. Several school districts in predominantly black communities in St. Louis don’t have accreditation with the state of Missouri. The school to prison pipeline flourishes in St. Louis, MO. Racism walks out in the open and is proud here. One of the last states to free the slaves, the creator of white flight, the most dangerous place in the world for a Black person is St. Louis, MO. This is the mind-state of the people here. This is why we all left out of our houses on August, 9th 2014.
The death of Michael Brown Jr. triggered a fight that opened the eyes of the world to the atrocities that continue to happen to black people in this country. It exposed America to the world. A small community of poor black people stood up to the U.S. military. There was a fire burning in the middle of the map and the entire world was watching. Every person that considers themselves to be on the left wanted to be involved in Ferguson. A community of people that haven’t been educated in the ways of the non-profit industry opened its doors to people from around the country in hopes of receiving help and support. What we received instead were national organizers coming into the city, writing talking points for other visitors to speak about irrelevant issues, naming themselves as the gatekeepers of Ferguson to funders, and using Ferguson to propel their stagnant activist careers. The Ferguson movement and the people of St. Louis were completely hijacked by these national organizers. Millions of dollars were raised off the Ferguson name, but those dollars never made it to the people of St. Louis. People that had never seen the city of St. Louis before were and are still all over national media discussing the issues of Ferguson. The media and the public have been bamboozled into believing a hashtag that was created around the murder of Trayvon Martin sparked and led the Ferguson movement. Young men and women who aren’t allowed to dream sparked and led this movement. It wasn’t privileged, middle-classed black folk who opened the eyes of the world.
Once it was discovered that the community here could not be controlled for different agenda, national orgs packed up their notebooks full of funders wanting to help Ferguson and left town. Some local leaders were blacklisted from national media to prevent interference with that agenda. Funders were convinced to only speak with certain national organizers in regards to the movement for black lives. These people have no ties to St. Louis, but in meetings they tell funders they are representing Ferguson. People and orgs came in, watched a city burn, benefitted from it burning, and left us without something to clean up the ashes. The people who watched tanks drive through their front yards, the people that were tear gassed, shot, beaten, etc. were left with their city in even worse condition than it was before the “help” came.
There is a big difference between hashtag activism and activated activism. It wasn’t national intellectuals in a hotel conference room writing talking points paid for by donations to Ferguson that led the longest active protest since the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The truth must be told about the non-profit world and how it used the death of a child to sustain its middle-classed lifestyle. No help was given to the people here. Our pain was sold and we were left to fix these issues alone. Black liberation can-not happen with the continuance of co-option, corruption, and exploitation by privileged activists.