Life As A Black Baltimorean After The 2015 Baltimore Riots

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.

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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.

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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?!

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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.

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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.

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#OpinionEssay: The “Real” Revolution Will Not Be Televised. #ILoveBaltimore

Special Note: This post will be my least uniformed blog post due to the built up emotions from recent events caused by the death of Baltimore black man, Freddie Gray. It’s my duty as a Baltimore writer to talk about this the way mainstream media does not want us to. PLEASE KNOW THIS FIRST WHILE YOU READ THIS: I AM NOT A JOURNALIST, now. I AM WRITING AS A BLACK WOMAN FROM THE CITY OF BALTIMORE!

Words pour onto paper as I’ve become a part of American history today while I write about what my eyes have witness on April 25, 2015, a day which I thought I would never see my city be the forefront of America for something so severe and extremely civil. I thought it was a part of mankind’s inhumane struggle that Black people conquered, or at least scratched the surface of overcoming. But we haven’t and it’s obvious to the world now.

America is governed by a system corrupt that uses the very people who help build this very nation as a stepping stool to bringing the world back to square one by embarrassing my whole race through provoking us to move; by tormenting Blacks unfairly.

As a Black woman, myself, and a blogger who lives in Baltimore, it is my duty to talk about the problems my city faces in the eyes of millions, nationally and internationally, who are watching my town react to police brutality towards yet another African-American male, who met his end in the most unfortunate and unfair manner society could ever grant, death by the very people meant to protect him.

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Who is Freddie Gray?

If you don’t know by now, get the fuck off my blog. You don’t care enough. This post isn’t for those who rather sit in their ignorance while we are at war. This post isn’t for the people seeking to view how “ratchet” and “routy” my city is to confirm our “home of The Wire” reputation. This post is not for people who go on major media outlets social media pages to read and participate in the racist comments. This post is to wake you the fuck up! This post is meant to make you realize from the eyes of a Baltimore writer that something really messed up is going on. So open your eyes.

Baltimore, what are we doing? No, let me redirect my concerns to the correct group of individuals… America, what are we doing? No, no, no. WORLD, what the fuck is going on?!

These last two years of my life has been about watching a massacre of black men, AND black women, being slaughtered by a system who prays on a culture who isn’t united and hasn’t been since we were active in the 1960s US Civil rights movement. The way that I feel about it, I have no words for what’s going on in my heart. I have no words for how I see my country being portrayed. I have no words for how my race is being treated. I only feel a fire burning within me from how close to home Freddie Gray’s death has hit thousands and thousands of hearts around this country, and I’m in awe because I would have never thought something this relentless happening in front of billions of people watching is happening in my very own backyard.

I CANNOT BELIEVE MY EYES! This shit happens everywhere else, not in my home.

As each month unfolds since the death of Trayvon Martin, I started to view my country as the ultimate hypocrite and bully. I use to watch and read about the United States in international affairs while growing up, thinking how phoney we must be to walk into other countries, like Liberia and South Africa, trying to assist with their racial issues when in neighborhoods where I live didn’t match up to the persona America tries to paint for the world to see. It is here, the media hides what’s really happening between blacks and whites, until now. Why? Our country’s own racism was hidden and blocked from mainstream media and majority of this country’s citizen for so long, so we could believe we were past oppression; to make us feel like we could give a helping hand to other cultures around the world. America needed us on the same page so we could be viewed by countries around us as “land of the free” and “home of the brave.”

Black people have fallen by the arms of police officers since forever ago, and white people, and even black people, still want to yell out one of the most irrelevant and most repeated statements recited in recent years as if it’s an excuse for why we shouldn’t make a difference in our law enforcers policies. “Blacks kill blacks all the time.” WE KNOW THIS! WTF DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH POLICE KILLING US TOO!?

Black people I need you to listen! I need you to open your eyes because this is what’s real.

Do you know we are being manipulated by national news? Of all things to capture and broadcast to the world, they choose the most uncalled for and offensive images to represent our race at such a delicate moment in our history because they know it will make our uneducated youth move and take an opportunity like protesting as an excuse to “show out” and express their anger, when they don’t even know what to be angry about. Do you know we are being made to have opinions that we’re unsure of because the media knows this will make us angry and ready for a revolution? And why is it that our own news stations WJZ and WBAL are taking a different approach in reporting about Freddie Gray than stations like CNN and the Huffington Post? Nothing’s making sense. This isn’t adding up.

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Do you realize the media’s power, now? LISTEN!

Though we are made to believe the media is not bias, people of Baltimore and black people around the world, we do not have control of the media’s motivation to stay unbiased. Even I am being bias now (and I encourage you to continue to have your own opinions during this time. All I ask is that you realize and watch everything going on)! The media is what’s making police brutality the fuel of our anger ; it’s turning it into something bigger than expected. The media, which is funded by BIG corporations who bank on black people’s money, are making my culture out to be unruly savages and it does not sit well with me. It makes me angry. It’s what made me step up and write how I feel today. Black people I don’t blame you at all. We have a right to be mad, but it is unwise to be so turbulent.

To me, this is beyond race. Racism is being used as a tool to push a bigger motive because it’s the only way to get large bodies of people to move. We have to be wiser. We have to be smarter in our decisions because 10 years ago, we lived in a better peace. But with the media suddenly pushing stories about police brutality incorrectly more often, seems every couple of weeks to days, it’s also corporations that are funding the media’s weapon to wither our peace away and box us in for something we don’t fully understand yet.

So what is real? What is true? We can’t rely on our reporters to be honest and staying away from these stereotypes we’re fighting about.

To all the kids who are reading this, you must choose now to learn your history. You need not act before you are educated. Do you see how dangerous it is to go through this? This entire ordeal isn’t transparent enough, and this anger escalating within us is not good, especially coming from a group like us who can’t get past light skin and dark skin.

Peace, love, joy. Peace, love, joy, everyone.

Why is it that America decides to use my backyard as a war zone this week? America decides to take the city that I’ve spent the last 3 years trying to help put on the map, positively, as a target and guinea pig for a bigger agenda. Can you image how I feel right now? For someone who spends all her spare time trying to help the city become angry with her fellow Baltimoreans. They don’t see the bigger picture, and rather dig a bigger hole for us to climb out of? I’m so disappointed and proud at the same time. This is why I have no words. I’m so all over the place.

I doubt this will be my last post on this. I’ve been awakened.

I ask that anyone who lives outside of my city to turn to the World Wide Web for real accounts of what my city is doing in honor of Freddie Gray and not CNN. I ask you to read about what we are really going through from us. I ask that you empathize for us. I ask that you pray.

#PrayForBaltimore #PrayForMyCity

Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath. -Proverbs 28:9

Let us be wise men. To Be Continued…

Did you participate in the Baltimore Protests? Read “The Current Generation Doesn’t Take Part In Civil Rights Movements Because…” on Doc’s Castle Media.