What a crazy few days it’s been. So much stuff rattling around in my brain. So many emotions, so many thoughts.
As the entire world knows by now, a man named Freddy Grey died on April 19th, 2015. He died while in police custody, from a severed spinal cord. As of today, April 29th, the exact cause of his injuries has not been released. It is my opinion, that the reason it hasn’t been released is because whatever the report discloses, will incite more violence.
The truth of the matter though, is that the riots that erupted through the city on Monday night, probably have little to do with Freddy Grey, and everything to do with Baltimore being a pressure cooker that was just ready to blow.
Anyone’s who’s intimate with Baltimore, knows that much of the city is steeped in a deep economic depression that has left a jagged tear in her heart. Swathes of neighbourhoods surrounding the Inner Harbor are abandoned, boarded up, derelict and serve as ripe medium for all type of crime and illegal activity. Last December, an article circulated the web stating that our youth in Baltimore had it worse than youth in Nigeria. Let’s say that again; young people in Baltimore, Maryland, a large city in the United States of America, are worse off than the young people of Nigeria, known worldwide for its poverty and depressed population. This is not an indictment of Nigeria, but it does highlight the immense problem that we face in my city.
We did not arrive at this juncture overnight. We’ve been sliding into this state of being for decades, and it’s finally catching up to us.
Baltimore was once a thriving metropolis. A bustling harbor on the Chesapeake Bay allowed for goods to stream into our port to be distributed to the rest of the country and goods from manufacturing plants throughout the land came to us to begin their journey to other lands. Baltimore was the city to be in. We became a manufacturing hub too, for steel, glass and other commodities. That, has all been whittled away over the past four decades. Now, anyone visiting the area can easily be treated to seeing vast tracts of abandoned buildings around the harbour (not the “Inner Harbor” of course; that’s where the politicians want you to see all the pretty things, and spend money). I imagine that a dinosaur bone yard is very similar in looks to the scenery observed when one crosses over the Key Bridge.
The unemployment rate in Baltimore City is 8.2% as of December of 2014. That number, after so many businesses being destroyed or burnt down will likely increase over the next few weeks and months. Over the course of a year, there are more than 30,000 homeless people in Baltimore. Not something that the average person living in Maryland or elsewhere knows or is aware of. We have a big problem, and it’s been growing. The problem, as I see it, is strictly a financial one more so than a racial one today. Money is leaving the city, and none is coming back in. I just finished reading an excellent article that speaks to the issues with housing and basically how our ghettos were formed, and why they still remain.
Something needs to change in our city, and while I don’t approve of the violence and destruction that we’ve seen over the past, almost, week now, I also do understand it. Baltimore is a keg of gunpowder. It’s been laying dormant for years, but the wick’s been ignited. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and Freddy Grey was the flame that lit that wick. Maybe we need to have fire before we can rebuild, and rebuild right. Maybe it will take extreme actions before politicians start acting on the behalf of their constituents, and not the outside forces lining their pockets or feeding their ambitions. Maybe, if the disenfranchised scream loud enough, someone will listen.
I love this city. I love all the aspects of it; the good, the bad and the ugly.
I want to see my city heal, and I hope I can lend my voice to the process.
Here’s to Peace in Baltimore.