I am so saddened and overwhelmed by the destruction and devastation that took place in Baltimore on Monday (4/27). I’ve watched the news, checked social media, and talked with family and friends and I still don’t know that I have words to adequately express my true sentiments. I’m not sure if the mother in me has a different take on this than the social worker in me. I’m not sure if the Maryland resident who gets to go home to her warm suburban neighborhood feels differently than the DC girl who sees exactly how this could happen in her hometown. What I do know for sure is that blaming the victim is not solving the problem. The “riots” were a symptom of a long-term illness that has been ignored for many, many years.
10 Ways to Tell If You Are a Part of the Problem and Not a Part of the Solution in Baltimore
1. You think this is only about Freddie Gray – the Baltimore police/community relations have been strained (strained is a generous term) for a very long time. Freddie’s death is recent but the abuse and mistrust dates back many years. How many suspects have been killed while in the custody of Baltimore City Police Department? How many people have taken legal action against them for police brutality? How many cases have been paid out?
2. You think only guilty people run from police – see explanation above
3. You think the protesters are to blame – There would be no protestors if there was nothing to protest – abuse, murder, poverty, poor education – the list goes on and on. I believe that some opportunists used this situation to their advantage and that only a small minority of the people who were looting and rioting were protestors.
4. You feel no empathy – You don’t understand the pain felt by the people of Baltimore (Ferguson, South Carolina, and the list goes on). Please don’t pretend like you’ve never felt hopeless, or alone, or angry. I’m sure you have had days where “one more thing” could push you over the edge.
5. You use the words “Black on Black crime” – Do you know the statistics on “White on White” crime? Is there such a term as “White on White” crime? Of course not because not all White people are criminals. The term “Black on Black” was created to invoke a certain image and disgust in your heart and mind. Latino on Latino crime is generally linked to gangs and not an entire race. Newsflash, Black people were killed by Black people during the Civil Rights movement but that didn’t stop Black activists from moving forward in their quest for equality and justice.
6. You think this wouldn’t have happened if the government didn’t take away a parents right to beat their kids – Parents beat their kids every day – EVERYDAY. I bet many of the kids you saw on your TV screen have been beaten over and over again. Some of them are angry because they were abused – not because they lack discipline. You do know child abuse laws were created to prevent abuse not stop parents from disciplining kids?
7. You think all kids have parents – I didn’t mean not all kids have good parents – all kids don’t have parents. I’m not only talking about kids in foster care. There are children and youth who have been raising themselves because they don’t have parents or other family members or friends to take care of them. WE have let them down! There are adults in your neighborhood or on your job right now who raised themselves and are still living in the pain and fear of survival mode.
8. You got all your updates from mainstream media – Mainstream media painted the picture they wanted you to see so that you would feel no empathy. Did you see the days of peaceful protests? Did you see the men form a shield between the youth and the police? Did you know public transportation was shut down in some areas? Did you see the people coming out to clean up their neighborhood? Mainstream media put their cameras on Jamal Bryant and Jesse Jackson so you would say “they only come around when the cameras are rolling”. You do realize that mainstream media chooses what is newsworthy? Mainstream media decides if the murder of a young Black man by another young Black man deserves national attention – not Al Sharpton, or Michael Eric Dyson, or Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
9. You think this is accidental – There is a reason that the people were allowed to tear up their own neighborhoods. Many of the people destroying property and taking merchandise lack an understanding of goal setting, urban planning, and capitalism. They don’t understand that they were doing exactly what was expected of them. Of course they should be angry that they send their children to poor school and prisons are built in their communities based on their children’s third grade test scores. They should be angry that their neighborhoods were without banks, pharmacies, and grocery stores. What saddens me most is that when the rebuilding happens the gentrification will continue. They will once again be ignored or worse denied access.
10. You called the people on your screen thugs – Most people didn’t see the St. Patrick’s Day brawl in New Your City (thanks mainstream media) and those that did see it characterized the fighters as drunk revelers and not thugs. Do some research on the riot that ensued after University of Maryland loss to Duke University in 2010 – no thugs were mentioned. The the riots at Penn State in 2011 when Joe Paterno was fired amid a child sexual abuse scandal – no thugs were mentioned. The destruction was the same but portrayed differently by the media. Why were the sports fans rioting again? Is a touchdown more important than a Black life?
BONUS: You are not getting involved! Did I already say that WE have let our youth down?!
Nicki Sanders is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.
© Copyright Protected. ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.