It was August 9th, 2016 when my girlfriend and I walked hand in hand down Canfield Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri. It was the two-year anniversary of the death of Mike Brown, and the two year anniversary of the following events that would change both of our lives forever. Her and I both grew up in Florissant, Missouri, a mere five minute drive from where the bulk of the protests, tear gassing and overall chaos took over the typically quiet St. Louis suburb two summers ago. For months at a time, we lived on the edge as tanks rolled through the streets and news crews swarmed through our backyards and neighborhoods. The two of us approached the Canfield apartment buildings that overlooked the street and a sizeable collection of teddy bears and flowers. We each held a rose in our hand to place amongst the endless amassment of trinkets and “We love you Mike,” post cards. I remember clutching onto the flower so tight, attempting to swallow away the lump that had been forming in my throat since I parked my car a few blocks away. My palm was bright red by the time we finally made it to the center of the residential street. My girlfriend turned to me and gave a slight smile before pulling me closer so that I could rest my head on her shoulder. I closed my eyes for a moment and truly processed the fact that I was standing next to the last place that Mike Brown ever walked. The moment was heavy; like many St. Louis residents, I was still struggling to come to terms with everything that happened two years prior. Visiting Canfield Ave was a way for me to show my respects to Mike while also gaining more closure about the entire situation. It’s been a process, as I sometimes still have dreams and memories of being tear gassed on North Florissant Ave, but I’ve slowly gotten closer to a sense of peace and normalcy. Then, I felt my girlfriend tense up beside me. I snapped out of my trance and spun my head around, finally truly noticing the scenery around me. Other than the posters, the flowers and the stuffed animals were also dozens of sets of eyes. Staring. Directly at us. Old eyes, young eyes, curious eyes, angry eyes: All from other people of color. An older black woman made a face at me while slowly shaking her head in disapproval while muttering under her breath. A group of young black men a few yards away were staring at the two of us, making gestures and pointing. I became acutely aware of the fact that I was wrapped up in my girlfriend’s arms, and that people could see us in plain view.
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