November 10th 2018
It popped up on my instagram feed, of all places. I was just meditating on my trip to Ferguson, finding the right words to articulate all the information I gathered while I was there for this very blog. I decided to take a break by scrolling mindlessly through my phone. That’s when I saw it.
It’s a picture of young black man. He’s 24, and his name is Dayne Jones. He’s hanging by the neck from a tree near his home. He’s dead. His mother is an activist named Melissa McKinnies who was super active during the Ferguson protests. She believes that her son was lynched as a warning to her. She posts that her baby was lynched on Facebook. Facebook later removes the message. The police say it was a suicide. Several people, including me, think that’s bullshit.
This happened in Ferguson! That same quiet city I was driving through. The same one I described as “lush”. Did I drive by the tree where Dayne’s body hung, lifeless? He was found on October 17th, 2018 - so three days before me and Ngosa’s day trip.
Did Spirit keep this information from me until now? I know that I was led to Ferguson, and I know that if I had learned of this, if I had received this friendly reminder that LYNCHINGS STILL EXIST, I would not have gone. And I would not have let my male cousin take me to Mike’s memorial because I would take complete responsibility if anything had ever happened to him.
This is my privilege.
Yes, I am a Black person. But I’m not African American. I had the luxury of driving to Ferguson for the day, to talk to people and to take pictures, to see “where the action was”. But the real tea is that I don’t live there. And the fact that I could exercise the option of not going to Ferguson because of a fear that I might be unsafe is the clearest demonstration of the difference between my Black Calgarian experience and that of several people in Ferguson and places like Ferguson.
When I learned of Dayne Jones being lynched, I was terrified, but I am 2,798 kilometers away (yes, I looked it up). That fear would look very different if my home address were 100 kilometers away, 50 kilometers away, or 25 kilometers away. Real talk, what if I lived on that exact same street? I don’t, and if you’re reading this it’s likely that you don’t. But several people do. As much as this news hurts me, the way that I receive Dayne Jones’ death and the way his neighbors receive his death should not be conflated. It is different, and it is very important for me to continue to acknowledge that. Being Black does not mean I automatically understand all facets of any type of Black experience.
I have learned that a lot of my writing is me processing the connection I have to different Black experiences. This is why I travelled: to better understand that connection, to acknowledge it, to appreciate it, and to write with it.
I’m a lover of words. I know that words have the power to change the world, but today I don’t have anything to say except his name: Dayne Jones.