Notes on Aniah Ferguson, community intervention & perspective sharing 

Growing up in Williamsburg, where I have always been surrounded by diverse groups of people and no criminal or stereotypically ‘urban’ element, I acknowledge that it is probably much easier for me to say ‘you should say/ do something!’ In instances where someone bears witness to violence than it is for a young person or even an adult to actually step in when someone is being physically attacked in a more dangerous environment. 

I am not excusing people who sit idly by when they can make a difference and speak up but I do want to acknowledge my own privilege in that no fight I ever witnessed escalated to the point of a child being knocked unconscious. 

The most you’d get at PS 250 or IS 318 is some pushing, two kids talking smack into each others necks while swaying to a chorus of ‘ooooohs!’ Or a couple wild swings that would leave both participants virtually unharmed- and that’s something I’m grateful for. 

I didn’t grow up having to worry about my safety and that enabled me to focus on my grades and even pursue multiple extra curricular activities. Where I was educated, These were altercations you could put yourself in the middle of without fear of losing your life. No one was going to stomp you out. No one was going to pull a gun on you. But in some schools/ neighborhoods that is the reality. 

While I have worked in some tumultuous neighborhoods I certainly have never been in a situation like what happened to that poor girl in McDonalds and I think it’s important for us as community members, parents and educators to step outside ourselves and really consider how our lives are different and how we can share perspectives that will enrich our understanding of one another. 

I hear a lot of talk about how the girl responsible for the brutal attack needs to be sent to prison for life because of her rap sheet, but I wonder how she became this way. I wonder if someone ever sees these kids like people or if they are ‘delinquents’ ‘thugs’ ‘savages’ and ‘brutes’ from their very first infraction. 

I wonder if anyone ever asked her about her life, or how she ended up pregnant at 15, or why she stabbed her brother or treated her grandmother so terribly all those times she was arrested for violently acting out. I wonder who, if anyone sees her for what she is, A CHILD, anymore.

I wonder who will acknowledge the culture of apathy we all are a part of that has created a generation of youth who will tape a fight before they stop it. 

I just have all these thoughts. This is a young person about to be sent to prison after all. I don’t think it’s a race thing to say, hey. Let’s consider how she got this way before we dole out a punishment. I’d want the same for any child facing hard time. 

I don’t think it’s naive to believe something other than the penal system can rehabilitate this girl. I don’t think I’m wrong for wondering why she gets labeled a ‘savage’ while the young white men who shoot up schools get the sympathy of a nation because of their ‘mental health issues.’ 

This girl stabbed her brother and threatened to burn her own house down. Doesn’t it sound like she has mental health issues to you?

There are so many things that lead up to kids leading these types of lives and I just think it’s important we try to understand. Even if the mainstream media refuses to do so, all the human beings and ESPECIALLY the Black folks on my time line need to put a conscious effort into understanding the psyche of our wayward youth instead of writing them off like the Daily News wants you to.

At the end of the day, the disenfranchised need to stick together, and no matter how dissimilar you think you are from kids like Aniyah Ferguson, outsiders group us all together. Understanding one another rather than playing ‘who’s the better black person’ would serve us all well. 

Aniyah was wrong for what she did and so were the rest of those girls, there’s no denying that. There should definitely be repercussions. I just think it’s important to consider a scenario where Aniyah is not only punished, but also given the tools to stop this behavior. What’s the point of sending her to prison if she gets out and beats someone else half to death again?

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2 thoughts on “Notes on Aniah Ferguson, community intervention & perspective sharing 

  1. Wait so it’s not a race issue in one sentence but then you go on to say “I don’t think I’m wrong for wondering why she gets labeled a ‘savage’ while the young white men who shoot up schools get the sympathy of a nation because of their ‘mental health issues.”
    You will spend your whole life pointing fingers at the white man won’t you? Sad. Pathetic. Let people take some responsibility I don’t care if she’s black or “how she got that way.” She’s a menace to society.

    • I’m not pointing fingers at the white man. there are plenty of sentences in my piece that express that I too believe she is a menace, I just don’t think prison alone will change that. Thanks for reading!

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