Baltimore is not burning only these past two days…it has been burning for decades. And the flower that can grow from this mud of chaos and attempt at reparation for atrocities past and present is possible: a more equitable tomorrow. Unfortunately what we are witnessing by the media sensationalization in effect is an attempt to narrow the protest and killing of a black man in police custody to an “event”. A picture of black men rioting and stealing is exactly what white-dominated media persists in selling to its majority white audience. Images that continue to perpetuate the myth of “unruly people, unlawful people, and a necessary police presence to manage these people”. To change this myth is to bring a white-skin-privileged America to acknowledge a history of disinvestment in our black and low-income communities. Disinvestment which has led to lack of the amenities which allowed middle and market rate communities to flourish and compete for the resources available for all. But without the investments in communities to assure education, health, living-wage employment, and competitive skill sets we have allowed our low-income communities to disintegrate, fracture, and turn inward. The perpetuation of black people as “unruly” affirms the mind of America and supports their continued neglect of the grave disconnect and gap between those with and those without. It allows the sanctioning of police and military means to “control” the “savage” communities. What the media and majority America fails to understand is that when the injustices of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Freddie Gray lives’ are finally revealed, it is a reflection of a history of brutality against black and brown people: a reality decades in the making since a whip was the means of control. Current day police brutality simply continues the “master/slave” dualism, now supported by uniforms and laws. Our current rates of incarceration of black and brown men evidence this truth and the plantation of “prison and jails” houses the masses. Policing with brutality in the past using overseers and slave masters has mutated over the years. Today we have a legal system with police officers, lawyers, judges, parole officers (and others) who have replaced the overseers. While the whips may not be evident, the effective means of “control” continue to brutalize the lives and communities of black men, women, and children-the significance of this is seen most dramatically in low income communities.
But waking up to this reality is possible, IF we can take the discourse and action on the current police brutality of Freddie Gray- who suffered a spinal cord injury leading to death while in the custody of police-to a truthful level. The reality of our segregated America can be finally discussed fully, acknowledging a history of segregation which continues today and the devastating consequences to all Americans. This segregation results not only in damage to our communities of color, but to white America as well. The “interbeing” nature of our humanity is fact and the gated communities and high rise luxury condominiums cannot protect those walled away from the “eyesores” of America. The time is now, the place is right here in Baltimore. If we take the time to look for the alternative media coverage of the larger number of people peacefully protesting and the gathering of community groups to pray and hold peace for Freddie Gray, and all those who have been brutalized before him, we begin to move toward a path of justice. This change in the perceptions embedded in the consciousness of America can be the seed that will bloom into the flower of justice. America has grown to its current stage of accepting police brutality of black and brown people due to a myth of black inferiority and the resultant necessity of disrespect and disregard. In order to move toward equity for all, we must recognize that equity for some is not sustainable to assure equity for all. Instead it further separates us and allows white America to condone brutality in all forms: disinvestment in communities of color which leads to substandard food, amenities, education, employment, transportation, housing, recreation. Poverty of resources results in a poverty of the ability to compete in society. It’s time to heal and bridge the gap of benign neglect and accepting of injustices against black and brown Americans. Moving with intention toward equity and sustainability is a path available once we recognize the benefit not just to black Americans but all Americans-we inter-are.