I wanted to begin with this magazine cover from Time magazine. The photograph was taken by Baltimore local Devin Allen during the protests in Baltimore. No matter what your views are, just take a moment to reflect on how powerful this image is.
Now I’ll start talking. I want to begin this post by saying these thoughts are entirely my own, for me and only me to believe. I am writing this to reflect my views on the situation in Baltimore, not influence anyone else, but to give my take. If you’re thinking this is a disclaimer, you’re right. I don’t believe in forcing others to agree with you or shoving your beliefs down someone’s throat.
I’ll be the first to admit that Baltimore is not my favorite city. I lived nearby in Towson for two years and made frequent trips downtown for nightlife, concerts, and day trips to the harbor. I chose Towson University for college because of the proximity to city life, something I enjoy. Towards the end of my two years, I became to resent Baltimore because I was used to my home city of DC. Aside from that, I still saw Baltimore in a good light. Baltimore is full of local businesses, the people watch out for each other, and the city has real pride. The light that the media has put on Baltimore is not fair. Like traditional media, that’s all we see of Baltimore, the violent riots, fires, violence against the police, and even the racism that is still present today.
I 100% understand that the violence has gone too far, and I agree. Violence should not be the answer ever, but Baltimoreans are responding with violence because they are tired of what has been happening. Not only just in Baltimore, but in the entire country. Every life matters. Race, sex, sexual orientation, shouldn’t matter. I’m not trying to justify the violence, but that is how Baltimoreans know that they will be heard. Just look back at the news headlines from this week. Baltimore is mentioned in every single outlet. In order to address the issues, people need to be talking about what has happened. The downside to this is that the media is only reflecting the bad of Baltimore, the violence. Instead, we don’t see students, neighbors, citizens of the great city of Baltimore cleaning up after the riots. We don’t see little children give police officers water. Inner city schools were closed for a few days, so children who relied on reduced price meals went hungry. The bigger picture of the Baltimore protests is that these people are standing up for their city.
The death of Freddie Gray is so tragic. Every lost life is tragic. Yesterday, police reports were released that stated that Gray sustained his injury in the back of a police van. The details of these reports were long overdue, and gave the city of Baltimore hope. Freddie Gray is only one of many African Americans killed because of police brutality. What is most tragic is that we don’t discuss race or police brutality until a life is lost.
I’ve been sitting on edge all week with the violence in Baltimore. I still have many friends up in that area, so I worried for their safety. The violence was getting intense for a few days, but then when protests turned “peaceful” I became proud. Many students I know when into the city and participated by speaking their minds, sharing their views, and holding up signs that said “Black Lives Matter.” Students at Towson also held a peaceful protest in Freedom Square. I know a few that performed poems and gave speeches. Students like this makem e proud to be a part of their generation. These are the people that are making a difference in the world, not just saying they want to.
Baltimore, you will always be in my heart, and right now, my prayers. The conversation of police brutality and racism has begun, I hope it continues to be discussed so we can get some real change in the world.