Tuesday, May 5, 2015

the language of riots (an open letter to wolf blitzer)

Dear Mr. Blitzer, and anyone else who cannot get their heads around what is going on in Baltimore,

Have you ever been mad? Really, really mad? Not just mad but enraged? So deliriously angry that you couldn't see straight? OK. You know how, when you got that mad, you may have done something or said something that later on could be construed as not in your own best interest? Now, multiply that times a thousand, now multiply that by a whole community, now multiply that by a several thousand communities, now multiply that by SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS of anger and frustration without redress, and you might be getting close to comprehending what has lead to the "rioting" you saw in Baltimore. 

In a recent conversation with you, DeRay McKesson described police behavior in Black communities as terrorism, and you were shocked by that terminology. Can you imagine how, if the police were in your neighborhood, in front of your house, day after day, stopping and frisking you for doing nothing more than walking down the street, it would start to feel like terrorism? Can you imagine how, if you saw your friends get arrested for no reason*, roughed up, and even killed for no reason, or killed for reasons that are so flimsy** and appalling***, you would start to mistrust the police?

*Freddie Gray was arrested for no reason
**Eric Garner was selling loose cigarettes
***Tamir Rice was holding a toy gun (and was 12 YEARS OLD)

Can you imagine then what happens when this has been going on for so long in your community that practically EVERYONE feels like they can't trust the police? What if no one outside of your 
community believes you when you describe what is happening? Where do you go for help? Who will address your grievances? Who will advocate for you? Who will represent you in the system of law, 
when it is the very system of law that is clamping down on you? The point is that No, you cannot imagine any of this, because you don't have to. But if you could, you might conclude that it's a pretty bleak and Orwellian scene. You might then consider tearing some shit up.

What you saw in Baltimore was not people breaking the law: what you saw was people utterly fed up by the law breaking THEM, and it will continue to happen until we as a Nation can address the historical and social conditions that have created the disparity between the way you see the world and the way DeRay McKesson does.

I hope that you can bolster both your historical knowledge and your personal imagination in order to grasp that this situation is not first OR foremost about people breaking windows and setting fires.

Robin Danely, average citizen of little consequence