Let’s Talk About Baltimore

…only, I won’t be the one talking. Instead, I’d like to invite you to listen to these voices with me instead:

From Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Now, tonight, I turn on the news and I see politicians calling for young people in Baltimore to remain peaceful and “nonviolent.” These well-intended pleas strike me as the right answer to the wrong question. To understand the question, it’s worth remembering what, specifically, happened to Freddie Gray…

When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves.

[Continue reading Nonviolence as Compliance]

From Rev. Dr. Michael Waters:

Multitudes have protested peacefully in Baltimore and around the nation. Yet, a question now arises as to what should be done in response to the violent protests presently unfolding on the streets. Both King and Shakur, themselves young Black men who were victims of horrific acts of violence, would caution America to respond responsibly. For only to address the violence of a minority of protesters and not the systemic violence that has set the stage for their responses would be to reveal historical ineptness…

Baltimore is but a sign of a people who can take no more. While we may not agree with the response, we cannot overlook the cause of the response. Just as Lamar listened to frustrations rendered a generation ago, it is time for us all to listen, anew.

[Continue reading Mortal Men and the City of Baltimore]

From Leah Balter:

I was crushed not because the violence lasted longer than the peace, but because the revolution Baltimore worked hard to create was not televised for what it truly was or is. The revolution was televised as angry citizens burning flags, looting stores and breaking police car windows. This is a skewed portrayal of the protests; it is what the media chose to portray — the media that consumers bewilderingly seem to want.

The real revolution is thousands of people across America standing in solidarity against police brutality. The real revolution is youth activists using their voices and their fearlessness to fight for the future of their generation. The real revolution is people of different races walking through the streets of inner city Baltimore, arms locked, chanting “All night, all day, we will fight for Freddie Gray.”

[Continue reading Baltimore’s real, untelevised revolution ]

From a news interview with members of various gangs who met with clergy on Sunday in Baltimore and signed a peace treaty to help their city:

“I don’t agree with what’s going on, but I understand what’s going on, you know what I’m saying? I understand why people mad. But we gotta handle things another way.”

“Me, I basically think the same thing. I mean, we’ve been out here all trying to stop, prevent people from breaking the stores. They hit us with a bomb, they burnt my shirt, they ripped it, and we were still standing right there as a whole. They heard it, but we came right back there holding hands together, and we still, we marched together. Down here, we’re still holding strong. We just want them to stop hurting us so we can just live our life and keep going.”

“Outta all the thousands of people that were down there, you mean to tell me you guys are pointing the finger at us ‘cause we have colors on? No. We’re not, we can’t have that. That is not what we stand for, and that’s not what we’re standing for today. Justice for Freddie Gray.”






[Watch the whole video (it’s worth it).]

And in case you haven’t seen this quote floating around yet, this—from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non­-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.

[Continue reading The Other America]

Do you have any links to suggest from other voices who need to be heard right now?

We’re listening.


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One comment

  1. This is powerful. I read some of the above before I came here. I love MLK. Love him. He exudes power even after he has been gone for so long. I often wonder what the world would be like had he not been killed. Would we be further along the path? I like to think so.

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