I am honored to have Luke P. as my very first ever guest blogger. His is a voice I have respected for some time. Thank you, Luke, for contributing to the blog. Much appreciated!
The Wifely Person graciously offered me the opportunity to provide my input on the week’s happenings. I’m not a journalist but I try to observe the world around me. Before doing so, I must say that while I am member of the United States military and an attorney, this post does not reflect the views, positions, or opinions of the United States government in any way, shape, or form.
For the past week, the Nation has watched emotion fill the streets of Baltimore – sadness, rage, frustration, relief, pride, and disbelief. For many, the non-stop camera footage is a rare view into the urban wasteland that is commonly ignored. Baltimore tourism brochures show the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Fort McHenry, and Ace of Cakes. They don’t show the 16,000 boarded up row houses, the blue lights that shine over crime-ridden intersections, or the stats showing some neighborhoods with life expectancy 20 years lower than others.
Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. Justice is blind – that is at least the aspiration. For our legal system to work, we must believe that justice is in fact blind; that it doesn’t see race, class, or affiliation. Unfortunately, decades of experience has taught some Baltimore residents that justice is not blind. The violence on display last Monday has been written off by some as the result of thugs looking for an opportunity to commit crime. Another explanation is that young people who have already given up hope viewed the death of Freddie Gray as the last straw and they had to act out in response
Looting and rioting are destructive. Decades of frustration, anger, oppression, and marginalizing culminated in rage. Thankfully, true leaders emerged and focused the rage constructively. The church advisors, organizers, and political leaders have done everything they could think of to keep the city safe – and the people have followed. After a day of violence, the heart of Baltimore took the city back and found better – and more constructive – ways to express their feelings: protesting and speaking out while staying within the law.
For the people in those neighborhoods, it is the majority of America, not justice, which is blind. It took riots for much of America to recognize the urban poor and their plight. Over the weekend, protesters marched through Baltimore demanding change. Heavy media coverage broadcast those protests, just like it showed everything else that occurred for the past week. Those protests were peaceful and positive. They were hopeful but urgent. However, it remains to be seen if they will cause long-term change.
The result may depend in some part on whether America moves on to the next scandal, focuses on the new Princess, or actually stays engaged with the less sensational side of this human struggle. Remember, media attention is about numbers; real attention is about caring. Talking heads are not the same as journalists. Some people have thinly veiled agendas and look for ways to build their followings. Others are true reporters who seek the real details and keep digging until they find them. We’ve seen excellent examples of both over the past week. Will the media stay engaged?
My guess is the Baltimore Sun and other local print outlets will follow the stories; that’s what newspapers have done for centuries. Fox News, MSNBC, CNN…they’ll all be on to the next plane crash, political debacle, or natural disaster by mid-May. So, how do We the People get our facts? Where do we find the truth?
We can’t just accept the first thing we hear/read. As we’ve seen over the past week, leaks, rumors, and assumptions are hurtful. Truth and facts are helpful. We can’t trust anything leaked in this case (or any other). The bias and deceit shown by the leak to the Washington Post regarding what the other prisoner in the van heard was despicable. A partial statement that offered a very different story than what ultimately emerged. Thankfully, leaders kept the city calm and true journalists found the real facts – that other prisoner.
Philadelphia Police Captain (Ret)
Charges have been filed and now the legal process starts to work its course. Justice will not be quick. It will take time. News vans will leave the Inner Harbor. The National Guard will go back to their day jobs. Most of us will sigh and go back to our lives, proud of the week we supported the oppressed…but we haven’t done a thing.
I live on a tree-lined street, in an eighty year old house near friends who have lived here for decades. My son runs through the yards and the most political issue the neighborhood is currently wrestling with is how we can get speed tables installed to slow the cut-through traffic. Oh yeah, we also live five miles from the intersection where the main riots took place last Monday. Our street is undisturbed by the goings on and, but for the constant reference to Baltimore, the news reports could be about anywhere. That’s the thing: we can watch, listen, be sympathetic, believe, and want change, but unless you have lived in an area like West Baltimore or been harassed (or even abused) by a police officer, I don’t know that you can truly understand the degree of the problem.
Recognition is different than understanding though, and recognition is the first step: we need to recognize that our view isn’t complete and that the truth isn’t always easy to accept. We’re all a part of this world and if we want justice to truly be blind and the American dream to truly exist, we need to expand our perspective and stand with everyone in demanding a fair shot.
Luke's Tip o'the Week:
Look at inactions as much as actions; both make the world move.