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That Priceless “Free Hug” over the Ferguson verdict

Take a look at the world through the eyes of a child. An innocent child, who is mainly concerned about mundane issues, and then try to explain to that child why there is unrest in Ferguson and protests across the country based on the decision in the Michael Brown case; don’t base your explanation on race, class, or social status. I am sure this will be a daunting task, now imagine that this particular child has been through emotional trauma most of his/her life, even tougher, right?

Well this is the situation that played out in Portland, Oregon last week, when the lives of three human beings (yes dare I use that label), converged in a simplistic, subtle, yet emotionally charged moment in time.

Photographer Johnny Nguyen, who is of Asian descent, captures a powerful image of 12-year-old Devonte Hart, an African-American boy giving a “free hug” to Sgt. Bret Barnum a white police officer in a tense atmosphere  during protests after the “Ferguson Decision”. Does anyone see the connection here? Or am I the only one seeing this?

In the middle of an uproar, sympathetic Sgt. Barnum is concerned about a little “black kid” with tears streaming down his face, Devonte is concerned about police brutality towards young black kids, and Johnny Nguyen captures an intricate and intriguing image that is sending a very strong message across the globe.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. The image and the story behind it brings an aorta of hope that maybe someday we may see change, or maybe in the words of a lesser known King (Rodney) “Can we all just get long”.

There isn’t much more to say again after you catch a glimpse of that un-forgettable picture, read about the moment and if your heart-strings don’t get tugged at, then you need to rethink your humanity.

I still worry though about the future, once the media leaves and Ferguson stops trending on social media, what have we learnt from this tragic incidence? What do we tell the children? Most parents want to raise respectable children and try to teach them about justice, peace, and the pursuit of happiness, yet we are unable to explain to them why there is so much injustice, violence, and unrest in the world all over.

My 8 year old-son over the summer periodically asked me if Syria’s dictator, Basher al-Assad had been captured or killed in the wake of the Syrian War after he had seen countless gory images on the news. He still does not understand why a man wants so badly to remain in power when his own people don’t even want him. Go figure!

Written By: Folarin Lawrence for #Moving Forward With Yinka.

Edited by Yinka.

 

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