Do I have the strength to love? I have the strength to struggle but what of the strength to be still and know, to remember the connectivity of our humanity, the strength to love across differences? Do we have the strength to love?
These questions blossom from roots planted many years back. They blossom now because we appear to be at a crucial time when the weapons of poverty, racism, and war continue to flourish and their roots dig deeper into the soil of our humanity. They blossom when I listen to friends and colleagues share about social justice struggles with scant acknowledgement of the connection we have with our oppressors. They blossom because some of us are willing to leave the ‘other’ behind-the ‘other’ who have generationally oppressed us. They blossom because I meet elders, sisters and brothers, and young folks tired of the same ole same ole wondering if a harder fight will change the roots of injustice. They blossom because white supremacy and power confuses many and convinces them that the ‘other’ must be feared and oppressed to assure freedom for some. They blossom because we isolate and insulate ourselves in our identity politics and forget that until each is free we are all slaves. They blossom because the happiness of the few is held supreme to the happiness of many. They blossom because peace has become separate from justice and violent language is acceptable while violent action is criminalized and punished. They blossom because the prison industrial complex grows while generations of communities of color grow up behind bars. They blossom because we punish young people behaving badly and convince them that they are bad and worthless, not their behavior learned from us. They blossom because the academic industrial complex continues to grow its power through disenfranchisement of communities of low income and color and our government supports this. They blossom because the non-profit industrial complex continues to grow large on the backs of the very people they are paid to help. They blossom because we appear surprised by neoliberalism, a new label for what we have been doing since America was birthed. They blossom because the top 20% of Americans control access to wealth and good health and continue to reap the benefit of an inequitable economic system.They blossom because we have allowed our hearts and minds to be co-opted by consumerism controlled by a market drown in greed and corruption. These questions blossom and challenge our strength to love.
I have the “Strength to Love” with me in the form of your written words but do I have it inside of me to practice as I engage in struggles for justice? How have we grown the ‘beloved community’ to fulfill a peaceful and noble intention for justice for all? How do we continue to practice to cultivate this strength not only in words and actions but in thought? How do we find the stillness amidst the frantic movement we who struggle for justice feel we must adapt to be credible in our struggles?
Today outside the waters are still in this part of the world lulling my mind to stillness long enough to write this love letter to you. Tomorrow we will celebrate the strength of your wisdom, inspiration, faith, and actions for peace and love as we commemorate the anniversary of your birth. After that minute we will return to our separate and disconnected struggles-personal, social, political-and forget again. In hope, may we remember that we stand on the shoulders of those filled with spirit who led the fight for freedom and practice to acknowledge the seeds of love present in our heart. May these drops of awareness breathe life into these seeds of love to blossom and connect us within our struggles, across our struggles, and with those who struggle to oppress us.
Ebony and Ivy is a powerful and propulsive study and the first of its kind, revealing a history of oppression behind the institutions usually considered the cradle of liberal politics.
The survival of [colleges] depend on their ability to exploit
[Colleges] are weapons of social destruction
[Colleges are] just social institutions capable of great good and capable of extraordinary destruction…they do the task that we assign them…what they get deployed to do, who is deploying them matters, what the project is matters…we must spend more of our political, social and intellectual energy… thinking about the nature of the projects they are engaged in…it is a function of funding, the disempowerment of low income people and poor communities in decision-making processes, the rise of consultancy and a new kind of expertise that tends to discredit and muffles the voices of parents and communities, teachers etc..a function of what matters to us as people, as citizens
(bold text is interview on Sam Seder show interview
30 W. North Avenue, Baltimore
The recent reporting by two of Baltimore’s local print periodicals was telling of the role of the media in attempting to educate us or cover up and allow political corruption. The examples are the reporting on the 88-acre Johns Hopkins expansion in East Baltimore by The Daily Record and The Baltimore Sun. The Daily Record’s reporting (“EBDI gets $2.5M to raze houses”. 12/12/2013) on the additional millions granted to EBDI (the development proxy for Hopkins and the city) assured us that the government continues to finance a private corporation’s expansion through funding demolition of property (from which more than 800 African American and low-income families were displaced) for construction of market-rate housing. This housing is necessary to accommodate the families being attracted to assure gentrification of the rebuilt area. Two days later The Baltimore Sun’s (“East Baltimore development moves to next phase”, 12/14/2013) report of the same plan for demolition forgot to inform us of the source of the funding for this demolition. Instead it focused on the ‘progress’ made by EBDI in building affordable housing. It did not elaborate as to who the existing homes were affordable to.
Two days ago another report by the Baltimore Sun informed us of the opening of the new school, Henderson-Hopkins, as part of the Hopkins expansion (“East Baltimore students start new year in new school”, 1/2/2014). It informed us about the progress made by this expansion and again forgot to inform us of the school’s use as a magnet to attract a certain race and class of people: white and middle and upper-class. It forgot to mention that no outreach was done with local residents to assure timely application for school enrollment. It failed to tell us about outreach to the Hopkins East Baltimore campus’s students and employees who were given information well in advance of the deadline for application. It also failed to tell us about the two new retail businesses in the expansion area which caters to the ‘new’ race and class of people Hopkins and the city is seeking to attract to this school: a 7-11 which does not accept food stamps and a Walgreens whose prices are so expensive that local residents report they have to continue to trek all the way to North avenue’s Walgreens for the same item at lower costs.
But this bias in news reporting is not new to any of us familiar with the now 12-year rebuilding process of Middle East Baltimore. From the start this $1.8 billion project’s vision has been consistently directed by the Johns Hopkins University, Martin O’Malley and his administration at the local and state levels, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. To date the majority of local and national media sources have been lacking in transparent reporting to aid the public in holding this heavily publicly-subsidized project accountable. Most have long histories with the powerful stakeholders who individually and together, directly and indirectly, control the finances and therefore the action of the people, organizations, programs, and enactment of policies, and laws of the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.
Still, the role and future of journalism is defined exactly at moments like this when truth-telling stands up to power and editors and journalists reach for a higher standard and do not fear for their careers or being popular with the elite. The highest journalistic integrity suggests principles such as truth, accuracy and factual knowledge. The public relies on this highest integrity to inform us of truth and/or corruption that we can determine how and when to act for fair government and transparency to the people. Shall we remain hopeful that the new year will bring forward more courage, facts, and truth-telling in journalism in Baltimore and beyond?