Hello all. Telisha asked what I thought of Baltimore and I answered her in the comments. But I thought I would speak to it again …
I hope things get better in Baltimore soon.
I hope Freddie Gray’s death doesn’t simply become a reason for violence as opposed to another lesson on legitimate concerns in the black community about its relationship with the police.
I also hope we don’t lose the lessons of Baltimore’s underlying distress in the cacophony of riots. Baltimore was already a tinder box of despair. Deprivation that deep and pervasive is easily ignited and urging calm where such poverty and discontent persists is asking people to return to a peace and calm they didn’t have. Doesn’t mean in can’t and shouldn’t happen but it will be a harder sell.
We need to do a deep culture check. What are we going to do when hopelessness pervades such a large segment of a community? It garners no attention when the chaos and calamity is self contained. But there are people who live that day to day. We cannot forget that. The rioters are a subset of a larger community that suffers greatly.
There is no one reason for the problems that afflict Baltimore and other cities like it. I think density of settlement issues during mass northern migrations contributed, as did the de-industtrualization of the economy. These (and other) problems were, I believe, exacerbated by draconian drug laws that have created a state of constant criminality in a community. Cultural issues have arisen too. So much is wrong it’ s hard to know where to start.
That said, check out Mass Incarceration on Trial by J Simon, On the Run by A. Gottman if you are interested in the unintended consequences of certain well-intended(?) laws.
We also have to look at ourselves, not just history, government and laws. .We need to do a deep culture check not just on obvious racism but on the ‘Them and Us’ mentality. If authority, in any form, sees a ‘Them’ and not an ‘Us,’ the danger conclusion is just a little bit easier to come to, the use of force is just a little bit easier to go to. And that little bit may not be much. It may be hard to quantify or to see, but that little bit can be the difference between the right thing and the thing that we keep seeing. That’s a soft skill, long lesson, hard story to get to the end of kind of process… which we can’t afford to avoid.