If this was an episode of The Wire, the critically acclaimed TV show about the inequalities of Baltimore, which many celebrated because it was "so real," there would be think pieces, empathy, and Peabody awards; but when a real life powder keg of injustice becomes exposed as anything but fiction following the death of Freddie Gray, we continue the persecution and snap the cultural spinal cord of an entire community with the weight of judgment and ignorance, and discredit the serious national problems of police brutality, and social and economic inequality. In case you missed it, click here for a recap... of the current state of Baltimore, not The Wire.
These are complicated issues and if you think looting is horrific and focus on the misguided opportunists over the focused majority of peaceful protestors, you may be ignoring the horrific fact that some cops are in fact out in these streets killing black men and women and getting away with what many feel is government sanctioned murder in our own country. If that doesn't also make you enraged and upset, don't tell me how angry you are about elements of a peaceful protest that devolved into riots and looting while you sit at home watching the fiction being crafted by major broadcast news networks (Fox News isn't the only guilty party at this point...I'm talking to you and your employer, Don Lemon). It's all displayed rather simply here by Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby. In this on-the-fly interview with a Fox News reporter, Mosby denounces both the riots and the underlying cause of the unrest that people are protesting as the reporter attempts to redirect the discussion to the looting that was just discouraged. See what they did there?
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - President John F. Kennedy
Don't despairingly tell us, "But this is America," when you don't say the same about the absurdity of American inequity as well. How many people have to die, how many desperate marginalized communities have to resort to these demonstrations before you realize that the machinations of racism and inequality are very much alive and shaping the flaccid misinformed response to how things have unfolded in Baltimore, Ferguson, Florida, the Bronx and too many other areas over the last few years? It all stems from historic inequalities that our country was built upon, which we can no longer ignore and must now correct with protest, policy, and pointed productive solutions. To be honest, it's more than needing mothers out in the street slapping sense into their children, which is commended, yet the viral way it is shared via news sources serves as a subverted way of perpetuating the stereotype that the only way we can tame our black children is by redirecting brutality back onto them to exert control, as if that too is acceptable. It is not.
Look, if you can follow a complicated episode of Game of Thrones, then you can follow this narrative playing out in Baltimore. What makes it worse is that we've seen it all before. This episode is a rerun, and we're binge watching it over and over again without change and it must stop. Like the people of the communities damaged, it's time for all of us to clean up. Investments in education, infrastructure, support, and job opportunities, as well as civic engagement are important changes needed in areas like these, way before the response to call in the National Guard. We must act and empower our communities locally and nationally, before we open our doors to find out firsthand how a community can turn to this. What role will you play in the next episode?