There’s a man out there named Ferguson Missouri. He lives in Wyoming. He has two cats. He works in the gift shop of Grand Teton National Park. He’s a descendant of Native Americans.
But if you Google his name, you won’t find him. He’s buried beneath news articles and opinion pieces and ungrammatical racist exchanges on message boards.
It wasn’t always this way.
At one time, you could find him on the second page of search results. His LinkedIn profile, his family tree on ancestry.com, his appearance with Big Foot on the front page of the Jackson Hole Picayune.
At one time, his wife could say his name without thinking about stop-and-frisk policies and the militarization of local police.
At one time, his boss could read the employee roster at the gift shop and not think that he’d hired a city instead of a human being.
At one time, his cats did not invite cats from faraway cities to loot his refrigerator.
But now his life has changed forever. He realizes that. He can’t return to the past. Except maybe if he pays Google to elevate his search rank.
On the street too, people look at him differently. They are distracted, he can tell, by rage or tribal fears or videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads.
Nobody truly looks him in the eyes anymore. They don’t see him. They read his nametag and shake their heads as they purchase Grand Teton National Park t-shirts.
At some point, though, he hopes the alienation will fade. As his great-great-great-great grandfather once said, “The city is not us. We are not the city.” He was talking about the impact of urbanization on indigenous communities but the point is the same.
The truth will rise to the top in the end. It must.
Until then, he will simply try to live as usual. He will play with his cats. He will cook dinner for his wife. He will man the cash register. Google his name. Update his LinkedIn. And he will pray that, sometime soon, the nation will move forward.
Because Ferguson Missouri deserves justice, he deserves respect, he deserves peace.