One More Time for Ferguson

There are many with heavy hearts and many with tears today. Yet, my first reaction outside of a bit of anger, was to get back to what I do best and write inspiring and empowering words. What you’ll see is partially repost from August and a couple of new thoughts.

This is Meat and what I normally do on Tuesdays is dig deep into an issue, then on Wednesdays, I follow-up with stats, your Potatoes. Think of the next couple of days as your meal for the week from me. And while you are preparing for the big one on Thanksgiving, think about digging deeper with me with my first essay collection birthed from this blog, A Black Urbanist. It’s a short read, perfect for that connecting flight and it’s got a lot of nuggets in it on how we can do better and how we can find our hearts. It’s coming out as a PDF e-book on the first and you can pre-order it here. Be on the lookout for information about print and Kindle/Nook versions.

Below is the beginning of my repost from August:

I’ve been thinking about how I would respond to the recent events in Ferguson, MO. And then I realized, I’ve always been thinking about how I would respond to certain events. That this page responds to a lot of the ills that lead to what happened there and what has happened in different forms in other communities throughout the United States.

From a very young age (and that young age occurring throughout the 1990’s), I’ve known that things were always different in certain parts of town. That sometimes people did bad things and those bad things would sometimes lead to being shot. Or, sadly, the bad thing would mean being shot. As I grew older, standing on a field outside of my middle school after another copy-cat Columbine bomb threat, I realized that anybody could get shot, even in the nice places. The night my purse was stolen at my luxury apartment complex. At gunpoint. Many a night where I was surrounded by bad things, but those bad things never happened. Not to me at least.

Some bad things can be prevented though. We can work on trusting each other so we don’t automatically assume someone’s up to no good or could be a crime suspect. We could work on our economy, so that people can make a legitimate living, and not be tempted in a life of crime or bored by “having nothing to do.” We could make it so housing isn’t so expensive. We can fix it so our roads aren’t so un-inviting and allow for more than just speeding cars. So we don’t automatically assume all walkers are criminals. If someone is threatening us, we can use self-defense, but only to stop the perpetration, not take a life.

And finally, we can pray. That’s all I’ve been able to do, because I need my words to go somewhere where they can truly be heard and where massive, society-bending change can be made.

I will like to add a few more things to the original post content above from August. First is to VOTE. And if you don’t like who’s on the slate, consider running yourself, especially if it’s at the local level. Secondly, let’s continue to hold meetings and discussions on how to hold our leaders, from the police, to those elected, accountable. Third, let’s make sure that we are doing what we can to tell our kids that they matter, that black lives matter. Finally, while I don’t condone violence, do understand that a lot of the anger shown has been pent-up over issues ranging from lack of getting jobs, to seeing family members die, to mean shopowners who assume people as threats and who feel like the only way they can do business is price gouge, to feeling like the government doesn’t listen at all.

Many of you reading this are elected officials, urban planners, architects, developers and other city and civic leaders. Let us all take one step back today and work on ways to make sure we can help others, before they cause harm. If you have control of any piece of the system, consider doing your part to fix it.

This post is part of my participation in #NaBloPoMo, the time of the year when bloggers come together to pump out daily content and connect. Find out more about that project and how I’m participating, here and here.


About Kristen Jeffers

I'm Kristen. Almost five years ago, I got tired of not seeing black women as nerded out about trains, better streets, riding bikes, walking not just out of necessity, tall buildings, old buildings and honestly a lot of other things. I was in grad school for community and economic development (ok, it’s actually an MPA), and I wanted to make sure people knew I existed and that I could help them do this thing called placemaking better. Five years later, I’m still doing that, although not from my hometown of Greensboro, NC, but from Kansas City, MO. I spend most of my time in Kansas City promoting better biking and walking infrastructure metro-wide with BikeWalk KC and the Kansas City B-cycle. But I also wrote a book A Black Urbanist (you can grab that over on the right) and sometimes I give speeches and help other communities tell their stories at design charrettes and public meetings. I’ve also written or appeared in all of the major “urbanist” publications, either as a subject or as a writer, as well as most of my hometown papers as subject or writer as well.