I’ve been silent for a long time. Especially here, where my much neglected blog gathers Internet tumbleweeds and spam comments advertising exotic boner pills. In general, though, I have largely shied away from political commentary, or pretty much anything that could result in elevated blood pressure for any participant. When my co-workers, largely older conservatives from the suburbs, gather around my desk (always my desk!) and weigh in on issues with stances that I disagree with, I shut my mouth and put in earbuds rather than try and rock the boat. In my thirties I have become more conflict averse, and chicken shit.
I have been writing in general for my column over at Hobo Trashcan, but to be honest I am kind of embarrassed by my last column, an attempt to write about the situation, written after a couple of sleepless anxious nights with information overload. So many others have written better, more comprehensive and thorough reactions to the events unfolding in Baltimore. And so many have not had their voices heard, for so long. Do I really need to add another privileged white perspective to the mix? (And yes, for all intents and purposes here, in spite of elevated melanin content I am white. I am from Kansas and I listen to indie rock, so brain-wise I am lily-white like a Kleenex.)
Increasingly, though, amidst a backdrop of voices in unison shouting for justice, and constant oversight by hovering helicopters booming at everyone to “go inside immediately!”, I am finding silence untenable. Yesterday’s announcement regarding charges being pursued against officers for the extralegal killing of Freddie Gray was unprecedented. Momentum is on the side of change and reform, but it can’t happen if we all just go back to sleep after the news cycle dies down.
I haven't cried in a long time in protest. But hearing the State's Attorney say she heard the call re: "no justice, no peace" got me.
— deray mckesson (@deray) May 1, 2015
“No justice, no peace.” I’ve heard the calls too. I’m ashamed that people had to resort to rioting in order to get me, and others like me, to hear them.
This Health Department report describes the conditions in which residents in Sandtown-Winchester, a neighborhood away from me, live every day. No, I am not responsible for these problems. And I couldn’t solve them even if given Miss Marvel-like powers and fifty uninterrupted years. But no longer can I just blithely go about my business, thinking of this as “someone else’s problem.”
The little things I can and resolve to do: volunteer with food drives. Go to meetings with people from the next neighborhood over from mine. Listen. Pay close attention to the news. Recognize my privilege and figure out a way to leverage it for good. Advocate for my viewpoint to others who may not agree with me in a calm, reasoned manner. Above all – speak up.