On My Mind

What if it were on your front porch?

I woke up, 3 am, thinking about the grandmothers who can’t go get their medication because the drug store was burned down. I scratched my head and tried to think about where the next closest drug store was.

I wondered if the mall was going to open later today. People talk about access to fresh vegetables and healthy food. The nearest store with quality options was in that mall.

That mall. Mondawmin Mall wasn’t shit for most of my life. It just recently got a renovation. They added stores that actually meant something to the neighborhood. Stores that allowed them access to the stuff you used to have to go to the county to get (a train ride and/or two busses in some instances). That mall was looted.

I thought about schools being closed. That area is one of the poorest in the city. I searched to see what churches and community centers would be open to feed those kids who might not get another meal otherwise.

Corner stores were burned. Many of those stores took WIC and food stamps. Many of those stores were the fastest way for mothers to feed their babies. They are gone now.

People talk about property that is insured and can be replaced. That is so true. No one at that CVS and many of those other burnt out stores is working tomorrow. A lot of stores are going to be closed out of fear. Almost all of those employees get paid by the hour. That means they aren’t getting a paycheck. Some of them are going to have to look for a new job.

Yes this is the language of the angry. This is the language of those who go unheard too often. However they have made things worse thinking they had nothing to lose.

Who is going to want to start over in that area? It took years for city leaders to get businesses interested in invested in that neighborhood. That area used to be vibrant. Read your history books and understand that Pennsylvania Ave was the heart of the city. After the riots and then the drug wars you couldn’t get a big business to come close in many instances.

Think about it. If I asked you to open your store in an area where people get upset and burn it down as a result, what are you going to do? Are you willing to risk it? Are you willing to invest in this area? Are you buying a house there? Would you want your mother to live there?

To those across the internet talking about how this is all justified… to those who are glorifying the riots and attacks on police… to those who encourage these kids to act out this way…

I have a question for you.

What if it were on your front porch?

What if it was your car they set on fire?

What if it were your job that was lost because of the riot?

What if it were your grandmother who couldn’t get her medication?

What if you or your children were trapped and couldn’t get home?

What if it were your child with 50k bail and no bond for throwing rocks at cops?

What if these police were as undisciplined as those who killed Freddie Gray and countless others?

What if someone really gets hurt?

 

Many of the people promoting this and glorifying this across the internet are not from here. I noticed it with Ferguson as well. You don’t have to pick up the pieces when this is all said and done. You don’t have to live in a police state.

I hesitate to even mention Ferguson because the situations are so different. We are allowed to peacefully protest here. People just opted not to.

They talk about Freddie Gray. Many say they are doing this because of him. Yet countless people have died the same way that he did. Do your research. The city has been paying out lawsuit after lawsuit. There is an investigation going on but it seems like everyone wants immediate results. It doesn’t work that way.

I am angry too. I am tired of seeing black people being killed for no reason by people who are supposed to uphold the law. However this has been going on for as long as black people have been in this country. There is no overnight solution to a problem that is centuries old.

And you can’t demand peace when you are giving the police a reason to be on high alert.

I watched this unfold yesterday. The police took a volatile situation and made it worse. They put those kids in a situation where this was bound to happen. They let this situation get beyond their control. They allowed, and will continue to allow, these kids to destroy their own neighborhood. They are going to collect overtime while it happens.

Yet, I watch people encourage this. I watch people verbally attack people who condemn it. We have clergy and community leaders out here going in harms way to try and get these people to calm down and stop destroying their neighborhood. People are sending messages across that this is not the answer.

Don’t say this is okay if you aren’t okay with it happening on your front porch.

Y’all are out there saying Pray for Baltimore in one breath and encouraging the rioters to stay the course in the next breath. Many of y’all are doing it from the safety of your home that isn’t in Baltimore.

The police and media have the headlines and pictures they want. They can now say that these people are out of control. These people are destroying their own neighborhoods. These people don’t value anything.

We valued the life of the people who have died at the hands of the police.

That is not the only catalyst for what is going on but it is the spark that lit the inferno of anger and rage.

There are systemic things at work. Generations of neglect to black areas of Baltimore, and cities everywhere.

Making things worse is not the answer.

Giving the police a reason to have a heavy negative presence in these areas is not the answer.

Kids assaulting cops by throwing things at them is not going to stop cops from killing.

Don’t think so, pick a fight with a pitbull and see how that ends up.

Let’s think about the safety of these kids who the officials have called “thugs”. Let’s think about the safety of the people in those neighborhoods. Let’s think about the people who have to go out and pick up the pieces of their life after this is all over.

Because the answers people are demanding aren’t going to come any faster. If they said Friday before it will still be Friday. Or probably later if city resources had to be diverted to handle the unrest instead of the investigation.

 

By all means continue to Pray for Baltimore.

Continue to peacefully protest. Continue to let the world know that black lives matter. Continue to promote change in communities. Continue to demand leaders hold police accountable when they break the law and kill people.

Just don’t encourage this violence and destruction you wouldn’t want it on your front porch!

 

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