Can Someone Please Explain To Me Why We Keep Comparing Robin Williams And Mike Brown?

August 16, 2014  |  

Like many people, I’ve found myself extremely disturbed by the tragedies that have taken place over the past week with the deaths of Mike Brown and Robin Williams. Social media has elicited some strong opinions and I’ve engaged in debates over both Twitter and Facebook with people whose logic and point of views I’ve failed to understand.

But what bothered me the most is the meme posted above. It reads:

“Innocent black boys are being murdered by police on the regular and yet Obama feels addressing Robin Williams suicide is more important.  When people show you their true colors…believe them.”

Before Obama publicly addressed the events of Ferguson, he expressed his condolences over the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams. Immediately, people took the action personally and Instagram bred a great deal of social media activists whose actions were limited to posting memes instead of protesting and tweeting rage instead of tolerance. But it makes a depressing statement on our self-expression as a society when we can confidently make statements like, “Robin Williams chose to kill himself. Mike Brown didn’t.”

Ok, so we should mourn Williams a little less because he suffered from depression and committed suicide? It’s easier to blame him than focus on who we really need to confront and come up with a long-term rational plan so that more lives aren’t lost to violence. What bothers me most about the black race at times is the absence of accountability and our failure to admit how we may contribute to the problem. We blame slavery, the government, President Obama, but not once do we take a moment to reassess our contributions. We continuously appear dependent on our historical roles as victims.

I’m not saying that something shouldn’t be said/done about the tragedy in #Ferguson, but what the hell does Robin Williams have to do with it? He didn’t shoot Mike Brown so why are people personally offended at the attention his death is receiving from the media? Both are equally horrific situations, but it seems as if overnight, people became perpetrating social media activists with irrational opinions based on zero logic. People got so caught up in their anger and rage, which is understandable, but at the end of the day no one is actively solving the problem by comparing the two situations.

Families lost loved ones. Can we take five minutes to allow them to grieve without making the death of two men some kind of competition for media coverage? Are you all that fixated on what the media deems important? That’s the problem.  It’s all good when VH1 was peddling Mimi bouncing on shower poles or when we were making catchy tunes featuring Sweet Brown and Antoine Dodson, but now it’s a problem when the media only wants to show us rioting and throwing Molotov cocktails. Wake up, folks. The media has been spreading negative images of us for years now, but no one had a problem with it when it was us that were entertained by it.

And let’s be real: Black people kill and rape each other in cold blood every day and you know what we do? We make memes for Instagram. We get shirts made that say “#Free Big T”. We don’t riot. We don’t protest. But somehow we expect other races to value our lives more than we do. Rapper David Banner recently tweeted:

Our situation is more psychological than people will admit. Black kids kill black kids for the same reason cops do. They see no value.”

We must start respecting and protecting our own.”

It’s true, America has some deep seeded issues that keep resulting in assault on our black men, but over time, so have we. And NOW we’re offended because Obama didn’t immediately speak on it and it’s the government that’s taking lives. Now you’re defending the fact that you didn’t rock the vote because he chose to make a statement about Patch Adams? I’m all for the protests, the peace marches, and the genuine desire to spread awareness and fight for change. My point is there are plenty of ways to support the arguments being made besides comparing the two lives.

I think what bothers me most are the countless people I am encountering on-line who have failed to mention anything they know about Mike Brown’s life or who he was as a person. It’s as if he’s merely a symbol for their pent up rage and frustration. But Mike Brown was someone’s son, someone’s best friend, someone’s crush even and more than a point to prove for people’s political agendas.  And it’s not just the media who didn’t give him a chance to be more than that. Everyone who thinks that a hashtag and meme proves their solidarity is to blame as well. It would be just like me talking about “RIP Robin Williams” and having no idea who Mrs. Doubtfire even was. Can people fall back for two seconds and let families grieve in peace without using peoples’ deaths to push their own political agendas? In the past few days people have lost a father, a husband, a son and a friend. I’m pretty sure they’re not checking for your American History lesson right now. Have some respect.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.

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