The people of Baltimore that I’ve met over the years have more heart and soul than most of the people I’ve met in different locales. I can’t explain it except to say, “When you meet people from Baltimore and they love you, you’ll always feel like you’re home whenever you visit.”
So, it breaks my heart to see the city on fire, to see looting and people getting hurt. It hurts to see the city out of control. I know the people of Baltimore are better than how they are being portrayed. But how do we explain what is happening? What do we say to young people about how stealing a pair of jeans won’t bring Freddie Gray back to life. How do we explain to anyone how destroying your own community helps the people or the community itself.
This is how I see the Baltimore riots. People are angry because Freddie Gray was killed and this is how they’re reacting:
- Ignorance. People who do not know better or pretend that they don’t know better are setting their own city aflame. If a person was to stop and think about that for a moment, they’d know that wasn’t the answer.
- Disempowerment. People are feeling powerless. Another black male was killed at the hands of police. Even without all the facts, it appears to be unjust. How does a man suffer a spinal cord injury while in police custody? When people feel they have been wronged one too many times, they erupt like a volcano. The city of Baltimore is erupting.
- Anger. People are angry because they do not believe that Freddie Gray had to die. How many stories will we see on television and on the internet where another black male has lost his life? It is too much. And, people are angry. People have chosen to express their anger in violent ways. I understand everyone’s anger. I am mad too.
- Frustration. People are frustrated because with every senseless death of a black male, the world is telling us that “Black Lives Do Not Matter.” Frustration often leads to anger. Anger begets more anger.
The people are not right for rioting or attacking police or setting property on fire. It will take years to rebuild these communities–monies that aren’t currently available. But, for so many, it is their way to say, “Listen to me. You have hurt me, and I am angry.” Should they learn to speak the language of non-violence? Absolutely. But right now rioting is their language of choice. I just hope it there aren’t many words in the vocabulary.
Let’s pray for Baltimore,
Peace & Love,