When a Photo Tells a Tragic Story

Two black kids hold "don't shoot" signs.

Photo via Anne Helen Petersen and MotherJones.com

I saw this image yesterday on Facebook and it left me speechless. I’ve not been able to find out who took it—even after a Google image search—but whoever the photographer was, he or she has captured the danger that African American children face every day.

This isn’t just Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, it’s America. And those of us who by the accidental privilege of our skin color don’t live the life these kids must face need to see them. We can’t shut our eyes any longer.

A new day has hopefully dawned in Ferguson, a new page in the story captured in this photo on Twitter this morning.

But how long until it happens again? Other black men have died violent deaths this week. We don’t know their names, or their circumstances, but we know that families and communities are morning them.

And in this way, all of America is Ferguson.


4 thoughts on “When a Photo Tells a Tragic Story

  1. I see both of our minds were filled with tragic headlines when we wrote our FMF posts today. It’s so sad those are some of the pictures people are seeing when they try to get a glimpse of our America these days. But you’re absolutely right, we can’t keep our eyes shut.


  2. I beg to differ. All black children do NOT face the danger of murder every day, all American’s do not either. That picture certainly tells a story, but I believe it tells much more than what you made it be. Maybe you have forgotten Columbine? Sandy Hook? 9/11? Aurora theater shooting in Denver? Sin and evil are a part of the world, no matter what country or what shade of brown your skin happens to be. Ferguson is only one of many tragic situations where senseless behavior has evidenced itself most recently. As the light brown mother to 4 brown children of varying shades, I am extremely bothered by your post.


    • I remember Sandy Hook well (and the other mass shootings too). My wife and I wept over those children. They were the same age as my daughter and one of them even had childhood apraxia of speech. Her favorite color was purple just like our Anna. I also think of it every time I drop her off to school. Yes, sin is a part of the world—I know my theology—and not all black children face the threat of murder. But a lot do, and even those who are in safe neighborhoods face obstacles that my daughter doesn’t. How do I explain to her that she will have an easier time in this life than her best friend—just because her friend’s African American? How do I explain to her that African American boys have it even worse? I can start with original sin, but I have to consider our nation’s “original sin” as well (I’m speaking metaphorically, not theologically). In closing, I’m extremely bothered by this post too, and I wish I didn’t have to write it.


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