Waking up on April 28, 2015 was the most surreal feeling I’ve experienced in my 23 years of living. To open up my eyes at the crack of dawn after tossing and turning caused by the Baltimore riots happening blocks away from where I laid my head that night, how could anyone feel any other way?
Two days prior to probably one of the most shocking riots to ever happen in history, I spent 7 hours writing about my frustrations towards the riots in Downtown Baltimore. In opinion essay on Doc’s Castle Media, “The ‘Real’ Revolution Will Not Be Televised. #ILoveBaltimore,” I speak from an emotional standpoint on the ways I believe Blacks should move forward after the major breakthrough of riots on Saturday, April 25th. I’d hope it’d be a message to calm people down from seeking to destroy more of our city as my blog reached over its average viewership.
My words may have reach quite a bit of individuals but as this week started, I see that my efforts may have not made much of an impact. Monday morning at Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore, only 5 minutes away from my job, was rioted by a huge group of young people immediately when dismissed from school and lasted for hours that day.
Rioting eventually turned into looting and destroying of historical neighborhoods. People who once had jobs along North Avenue and Mondawmin Mall are now without employment, and as riots made it across East Baltimore later that night, near Monument Street, again around the corner from where I stayed that evening, a senior center was burned down, leaving older people who were anticipating to move into a new home suddenly without one. To top it off, our mayor grounded the entire city. So we have to be in our homes by our 10 o’clock curfew.
Baltimore is a mess. The city I’ve known all my life is scorned from which the world believes is because of police brutality against 25 year old African American man Freddie Gray. But our story is deeper than the surface. It is now that we use everyone’s cameras as a tool to let you in on the scoop.
Words cannot express how I feel about what happened in my city. I’m not a fan of the media like I once was before, especially as I’ve watched events that day come to pass. There’s a media circus in my backyard reporting from Penn-North subway station, now internationally famous for our CVS that burned down on its corner.
Come on, now! Just the other day I bought a chocolate Snickers bar out of there. I’ll never be able to do that again.
We’re never getting some of those shops back. It’s hard to have hope for the restoration of CVS or any of those other buildings due to the the reputation of reconstruction in Baltimore. We’ve waited YEARS for our government to rebuild the hundreds of vacant buildings and shops damaged from the Martin Luther King Jr. riots in 1968. The only reconstruction we’ve ever seen has been to our pothole infested streets, and I swear, we can’t improve the pavement on Charles Street anymore than it is.
Geeze! Does all our tax money go to that street?!
In the minds and hearts of many people here, it’s second nature for citizens to want to walk outside to see what’s happening for themselves, rather than to watch the news nowadays. The world’s painted picture on television is far from what we’re experiencing. A trust barrier is broken for many who relied on national news stations to give us the 4-1-1 on events occurring during the week. So the local news and social media is our only best friend during this time.
The media from outside of Baltimore lacks an understand of the type of people who live in Baltimore and the lifestyle that we see on a day to day basis. It’s like the media’s way of looking at us is similar to viewing through a microscope. They’re looking to find where all these horrid problems and rioting behavior could be stimming from. But the people who experience the lifestyle of living in here will always have a better understanding and a better way of explaining what’s going on.
Poverty is one of the hardest struggles a person can try to shake in Baltimore City. With a phrase like “The struggle is real,” which is often recited in Baltimore’s Black communities, it models the hard knock situations we see as being seriously rough to live through. When we say this phrase, almost everyday nonchalantly, we as black Baltimoreans adopt an “It is what it is” attitude, learning to also desensitize and quiet ourselves from what’s really happening. Well, Baltimore’s tired of being quiet now.
People who are publicly judging my city worldwide are failing to understand. Even I feel uneasy each time I come into the realization of what’s happening to us sometimes. Tuesday evening, I walked passed a reporter from Russia and another from London. Like whaaa?! These people don’t even know that just 2 weeks ago I was frustrated from fighting to be heard because of Baltimore’s crab in a barrel reputation.
Our youth isn’t afraid to make a change. I think of how some of those kids who were rioting were doing so to scream out they were fed up. Some of those kids had no home before they rioted. Some of them go to school everyday to get away from their daily worries of not having something to eat once they leave school. Some of them were angered because they were stranded without transportation to get home due to the police shutting down the bus lines and subways before school let out. (But that’s another mystery in itself I won’t get into.) And I admit, some of them were just following the crowd. But to see our kids act this way, hurts the most because they are innocent. They’re the one’s we’re trying to protect from “the struggle.” But we can’t.
Baltimore needs change and everyone knows now. I’m so proud of us. We made a stand for so many things this week. We’re fighting police brutality, racial profiling & systematic racism, bad publicity and corrupted governmental policies not only for us, but for our entire country, we’re making a statement. My feet are suffering from it and I don’t mind it all. I have a bigger hope for my city, though I may doubt our government’s follow-up as an African American woman who’s part of the working force striving for success and a better Baltimore. But I’m glad to have seen a better side, finally! I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Rest In Peace, Freddie Gray. You’re gone, but you are not forgotten. Your name will be in history books along with our city. Change will surely come for us and our country.