Monday Night was Baltimore, Too

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Monday Night was Baltimore, Too

Description

Written contemporaneously in response to the comments of many in the days immediately following the uprising.

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In the seven years I’ve called Baltimore home, I have never seen a more widespread outpouring of love and support than I’ve witnessed this week. Thousands of people came out of their homes on Tuesday morning to clean, to green, to feed. They crossed boundaries and danced together, sang together, prayed together, protested together. Rather than wait for some official call to action, as my friend Mary so accurately described in her piece in in the CS Monitor, “Baltimore just did it.” Many who live in and love our city declared,“THIS is the Baltimore I know,” or “This is the REAL Baltimore,” in contrast to Monday night, which was not the Baltimore they knew, and either explicitly or implicitly, not the “real” Baltimore.

Coming together to clean up, or play music, or peacefully march IS Baltimore. And it is beautiful. It is another reason I love this city. But Monday night was Baltimore too.

Creative people collaborating to express their frustration, sadness and hope through public art and musical performances? That’s Baltimore. Young people expressing justifiable rage and anger against persistent police brutality, poverty, community disinvestment and political disfranchisement? That is Baltimore too.

Neighbors sitting on stoops, faith communities uniting to meet citywide needs, young people organizing a movement for change that is, as my friend Laura describes hopefully, “smart, unapologetic and strategic”? That is Baltimore. But the criminalization of black children, and the systematic use of brute police force on Monday night to set them up instead of embrace and engage? That was Baltimore too.

To declare that the anger, frustration and rage of young people in neighborhoods like Sandtown is “not Baltimore,” is to once again deny, turn away from, and discount the lives and lived experiences of so many who also call Baltimore home.

Baltimore is my city, a city I love, which has embraced me as a relative newcomer. My husband and I are raising three kids here and sleep easy knowing they will be safe, engaged, inspired, educated, and loved. But just down the street, another parent fears her own child may “be the next Freddie Gray.” Baltimore is that mother’s city, too.

Maybe living in Baltimore has never meant wanting to throw a rock at a police officer, or smash a store window. Maybe you’ve never felt crushed by living in a neighborhood where more fathers, sons and brothers than any other in a wealthy state are sent to prison. Maybe you could never imagine destroying your own block, because yours is a neighborhood of choice, not one you feel you must burn down in order to escape. But that doesn't make it not Baltimore. And if that is not your experience in Baltimore, as it is certainly not mine, our response cannot solely be to create more of what YOU love about Baltimore (but please, keep doing that too). If you did not recognize the anger and rage expressed in the streets of our city Monday night, ask yourself why? And then, how – how to better know this city we love, all the parts of it. We cannot simply cut and paste the parts of Baltimore we like and call the edited version, "real."

Right now many are wishing for peace in Baltimore. But for Baltimore to become a city that is Tuesday morning for all, not Monday night for many, we need justice, we need justice.

Citation

Elizabeth J. Kennedy, “Monday Night was Baltimore, Too,” Preserve the Baltimore Uprising: Your Stories. Your Pictures. Your Stuff. Your History., accessed December 18, 2017, http://baltimoreuprising2015.org/items/show/10512.

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