Poverty could not negate him. He knew where he lived. “Teachers described Mike as a “gentle giant,” a student who loomed large.” “He didn’t cause any trouble.” Mike had a sense of humor. He loved music and had begun to rap. He knew he would face an uphill battle. Still, he graduated from High School in a district torn by divisive legislation. As a freshman, he achieved. Mike, Mike was in the Junior ROTC. During his sophomore year he played football. As a junior Mike chose to straighten out his finances. Michael Brown was determined to graduate in May. And he did!
“We were at graduation, me and him, and we were talking,” said Hershel Johnson, a friend of Brown’s since middle school. “He said he wasn’t going to end up like some people on the streets. He was going to get an education. He was going to make his life a whole a lot better.”
Michael overcame the notion that if you were Black and poor you could not get an education. But what he could not escape was a worse. It is the dire American situation. We see it wherever we turn; it is intolerance, dehumanization, what we call “colorblindness.” ‘It does not go away. Indeed, there is a perception that being Black is a risk factor.
Statistics, and those who interpret these use the data as a prediction of a child’s future, believe the numbers are accurate, rather than a reflection of today’s reality. What they forget is racism is real. Were it not, we would remember Michael Brown for who he was and is. He is our child. He was and is a teen determined to get an education. He understood the importance of finance. Mike Brown graduated in May. In the summer of 2014 he was a graduate — he was on his way. Mike Brown was on his way to college. He knew that “One day, the world will know my name.”
Shirin Barghi is a Journalist. Filmmaker. Humans of Tehran Founder. Hailing from Iran aka ‘Eye-Ran’ aka ‘The Islamic Republic’ aka ‘The Axis of Evil’ and the creator of the illustrations #LastWords, #LastWordsHeard, and Remembering #Michael Brown. Follow her on Twitter @shebe86
This series of images, was reprinted by EmpathyEducates with the kind permission of the Creator, Shirin-Banou-Barghi. We are more than honored and feel privileged to share her a powerful galleries of work. Betsy L. Angert penned the essay that accompanies this exhibit.
References and Resources…
- Michael Brown remembered as a ‘gentle giant’:. By Elisa Crouch. St. Louis Dispatch. August 11, 2014
- ACLU lawsuit: Ferguson school board excludes blacks., By Yamiche Alcindor. USA Today. December 18, 2014
- “Colorblindness: the New Racism?Teaching Tolerance. 2009
- Being Black is Not a Risk Factor. National Black Child Development institute. 2014
- 8 Things White People Really Need to Understand About Race. By Jamie Utt. Everyday Feminism. July 23, 2014