I'm also going to echo what I wrote on one friend's post earlier today (in part responding to her confusion as to why "suburbanite" was being brandished at her as a slur): It's hard to understand certain urban issues from an outsiders perspective. As a white professional working downtown, I didn't experience what those who've lived in Detroit their whole lives have. It's one thing to visit a city, or live in the downtown area of a city or commute for work and ball games; and it's another thing entirely to live in a neighborhood where the only place to get food is the gas station and the liquor store. So, I guess I'm saying I get the resentment on some level, I get how living in certain conditions your whole life is like living in a pressure cooker and eventually the whole thing blows the lid off. And it isn't pretty and it has to get cleaned up and it'd be really great if every single person had stayed calmer and not destroyed things and broken the law. But this is where we are now. And the question is do we fix the wiring or do we stuff it all back in and hope it doesn't blow the lid off again?
The other part of all this is the countless people who demonstrated peacefully for hours before any violence began; the acts of peace, charity and bravery in the face of violence, not from police but from community members; and the (dare I say it?) distorted view of what we're seeing in the national media.
Meanwhile in Detroit, a 20-year-old man was shot 10 times by a federal agent coming to arrest him. The family disputes the official account of the case. Will Detroit be next? What will I see my friends saying in North Carolina? New York? Florida?
Learn the background
Can you think for a minute about the fact that it's not unusual for children to be poisoned by lead paint in their own home? That was something I had never even considered before moving to Detroit. But in my first apartment up here was undergoing lead abatement, and people had been living there for almost a century. Others in Detroit aren't nearly so privileged, and when lead abatement programs were cut the light at the end of the tunnel for poor residents flickered out.
Now, flip to these two maps of Baltimore and just immerse yourself in the massive class disparity there. I think there's a lot of inter-sectionalism happening here, it's too easy to declare this a class issue or a race issue. But privilege (and oppression) comes in many forms. (http://wapo.st/1PSV09l)
Images of Nonviolence
10,000 Strong Peacefully Protest In Downtown Baltimore, Media Only Reports The Violence & Arrest of Dozens: (http://wp.me/p4JgCu-1Ps) This is a small news blog out of West Manchester in Baltimore debunking some of the headlines about Saturday's protests. No it doesn't address Monday's unrest, but it gives you an idea of some on the ground perspective. Even if they are woefully off base, it's always important to get an idea of what actual residents think is happening and not just the National Media (I'm sure others in Detroit know what the national media has skewed on our issues). They also talked to some of those "gang members who made a truce to target cops," it's also untrue, they say (http://wp.me/p4JgCu-1Qv). And here's another local (white) source claiming that drunk sports fans helped spark the unrest on Saturday (http://bit.ly/1JPE2Vz).
Mic.com has a number of great pieces, including 10 Images of the Baltimore Riots You Won't See on TV (http://bit.ly/1EOq1JY), which includes such gems as this young man and police officer agreeing that what happened to Freddie Gray was wrong. Meanwhile, One Tweet Shows the Hypocrisy of the Media's Reaction to Riots in Baltimore (http://bit.ly/1J71xt4) compares the photos from the ground for most of the day with the images that crystallized in the national consciousness.
Some food for thought
Orioles COO John Angelos offers eye-opening perspective on Baltimore protests: "After protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray turned violent on Saturday, Baltimore sports-radio broadcaster Brett Hollander took to Twitter to argue that demonstrations that negatively impact the daily lives of fellow citizens are counter-productive. Orioles COO John Angelos, son of owner Peter Angelos, seized the opportunity to respond with a qualified and brilliant defense of those protesting."(http://usat.ly/1z5D5YC)
The Brutality of Police Culture in Baltimore: "What's crucial to understand, as Baltimore residents take to the streets in long-simmering frustration, is that their general grievances are valid regardless of how this case plays out. For as in Ferguson, where residents suffered through years of misconduct so egregious that most Americans could scarcely conceive of what was going on, the people of Baltimore are policed by an entity that perpetrates stunning abuses. The difference is that this time we needn't wait for a DOJ report to tell us so. Harrowing evidence has been presented." (http://theatln.tc/1P3M12Y)
Or does it explode: This is a blog post from the lesbian moms group I'm a part of on Facebook. She (like me) was expecting to be fully immersed in the SCOTUS hearing today but found herself drawn to the Baltimore coverage that also was dominating her news feed (and quotes many of the articles I've listed here). She lived in Baltimore for a while and offers a lot of the same sentiments -- wistful, wanting, but always an outsider -- that I feel toward Detroit. (http://bit.ly/1QG8VkD)
My Baltimore was filled with love and threat and suffering. Filled with the friendly and loving people, who could not fix the crumbling infastructure, the massive disinvestment. Baltimore is a colonial outpost where the wealthy extract what they can-the University studies the local population, where strong young men go to prison to work for free. Baltimore is the most civic-minded place I have ever lived, where local people know that if you want something done you have to get your neighbors together and do it, because the city will never show up to help. My Baltimore was one of compassion fatigue, where every educator, health care worker, law enforcement officer created a hard shell to survive in the face of so much suffering-and so did I.
And finally, if you are one of those people who has actually had the audacity to say this is "just black people acting like the stereotype," I give you: White people rioting for no reason. (http://nym.ag/1ygVmyU)
Stand up for equality
"When you have two different people, one sitting on a hot stove, one sitting on the warm stove, the one sitting on the warm stove thinks progress is being made. He's more patient. But the one who is sitting on the hot stove, you can't let him up fast enough. ... They aren't suffering the extreme pain that the masses of the black people are. And it is the masses of the black people today, I think you'll find who are the most impatient, the most angry, because they're the ones suffering the most."
This was not the post I expected to be writing under that headline. I thought my largest concern would be whether the Supreme Court would be receptive to the gay marriage case being presented today and whether my marriage would be recognized after our wedding in June. But instead I find myself seeing the indignities of others and finding myself incapable of remaining silent. Inequality is the root of injustice, and it cannot stand. In any form.