Dollars Make Sense.

Baltimore Burning.

Posted in truth. by Jason Mekkam on May 1, 2015

devinallenigPhoto Credit: Devin Allen

Let me tell you how fucked things are:

Three weeks ago, long before Freddie Gray was transformed from a living breathing human man into a #hashtag, my mom received a phone call from my great uncle. He’s 59, loves sour candy and lives in London. It was well past midnight his time, yet he had become so exasperated from what he had just witnessed he felt it imperative to contact my mother right away.

“Tell them to be careful I beg. If the boys ever come in contact with them please insist they not make any sudden movements, keep calm and remain composed no matter what,” my grandmother’s brother pleaded.

What had him so shook was footage of a black man in a green shirt sprinting away from an officer of the law as the cop callously pulls his weapon and fatally shoots him several times in the back.

My great uncle was terrified, disgusted but most importantly worried about his grand nephews – my three younger brothers and me.

The fact that he felt compelled a half a world away to reach out to my moms and emphasize that his kin, living in the first-world-greatest-country-on-the-whole-of-the-entire-earths, tread softly in the presence of law enforcement because we all fit the proverbial description is a far too chilling barometer read of the social/political climate we currently habitate.

Watching the events in Baltimore leaves me grappling with many emotions. Anger is the loudest. Not only am I upset over of the unnecessary loss of yet another black man at the hands of an agency sworn to protect him but too towards a certain collective response focusing primarily on property damage caused by the riots. It’s like I’m in film class all over again: while the rest of the class is baffled as to why Mookie threw the trashcan into Sal’s Famous, I’m still the only one screaming at the top of my lungs that they murdered Radio Raheem. Do The Right Thing was released over twenty five years ago and yet the very real American pattern of giving more importance to property than black life has never rang truer.

Post-racial society my mother fucking ass.

I’m frustrated. Rioting is not the answer. Violence is bad. I get that. I know that. No one argues the contrary. But it’s not the problem in and of itself. Dudes didn’t just wake up and decide, “Eh yo hit up all the homies fam. We finna set police cars and on fire and roast marshmallows and shit bruh.” No. As a famous ideological extremist once declared, “Riot is the language of the unheard.” It’s the last resort of a people who’ve felt so marginalized they believe no the tools exists for which to proclaim their grievances other than that of violence and destruction.

Here lies the real tragedy. We don’t all see ourselves as being on the same team. There is a very real portion of the United States that, subconsciously or not, don’t believe black men to be full-blooded Americans. Rather than brothers partaking in the wonderful political experiment we call democracy, we’re thugs, criminals, second-class animals that need to be controlled; not respected. It just so happens that some who think this way also just so happen to be cops. Yes years long decaying infrastructure, nonexistent opportunities for upward mobility and feelings of governmental abandonment are very real streams of fuel stoking the very real fires that burn hot in Maryland’s most populous city, but ignoring the role good old fashioned racism plays in these incidents we’ve become all too familiar with is a grave mistake.

I’m sad that people all over America are suffering. White, black, cop, civilian; I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I wish the madness will stop so we can constructively put our efforts into fixing injustices instead of fixing windows. James Baldwin once said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in rage almost all the time.” I have to be honest tho: rage is exhausting. I know. Trust. So I hope now instead. Because maybe one day we will wake up and realize the interconnectedness of our lives and treat each other accordingly. Maybe we’ll be kinder, more thoughtful and cease viewing each other as violent enemies but rather just people.


Maybe the time to start the conversation about race in America is over and the time to actually acting on these conversation for a better tomorrow will begin. Maybe.. I hope. Because man.. I’m tired. And I want better because I still have to get up tomorrow. So I hope.

I mean shit. It worked for Obama.

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