There are a LOT of people talking about what’s going on in Baltimore. As they should be. I’ve been watching this develop, along with everyone else, and I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of the news as it comes in.
Here’s my take on Baltimore. I don’t live there, I’m a white girl, and I’m sure this will piss a bunch of people off. But here’s where I’m at regardless.
1) Violence is scary, and destruction of property is not ok. I understand why so many people are upset/angry/scared/sad about it.
2) There are WAY more peaceful protestors than violent ones, and we need to remember that. As Americans we have the right to peacefully assemble, and that right is being exercised. However, there are opportunists in every group who take things too far, and we can’t judge the whole by the fringe. It’s hard to keep that in mind, especially when that’s all we see on the news, but we need to try.
3) What happened to Freddie Gray is especially egregious, but IT IS NOT ISOLATED. Gray was the catalyst for action in Baltimore, but they’re protesting the same thing that Ferguson protested. And NYC protested. And cities across the US have protested. Every other day we’re hearing about Black men and women being injured or killed by people who are theoretically supposed to protect them, and it KEEPS HAPPENING. Every 28 hours a Black person is killed by law enforcement in the United States.
When the authorities who are supposed to protect you are the ones targeting you instead, you can point to reams of evidence supporting your fear, no one seems to listen to you when you talk about it, and you’re worried about your family and your friends and your home, actively rebelling against those authorities is pretty much the only option you’ve got left.
Thing is, racism and police brutality aren’t an alien invasion. There’s no one thing we can point at and say “This! This is the symbol of our oppression!” and take it out. There’s no clear target. All that rebellion has nowhere uniform to go. So it goes everywhere.
4) What surprises me about this – and it shouldn’t, but it DOES – is how often I’m seeing conservatives rail against the riots while, simultaneously, preparing themselves to violently revolt against an authoritarian government that targets them and rides roughshod over their rights. They don’t seem to realize that it’s ALREADY HAPPENING, that it’s BEEN happening. That this shit is proving them RIGHT. It’s just not happening to THEM, and it’s not based on faith or politics, so they don’t see it.
As a polytheist, I stand with the people of Baltimore. Because, as we keep needing to say again and again and again, #BlackLivesMatter. It is against my faith to support the oppression of any person or group, and silence equals consent.
I’ll close with this. If you’re in Baltimore, stay safe. And for everyone else, try to remember that this isn’t an isolated event but a response to a larger social issue we seem incapable of confronting any other way. If we were better at confronting it, we wouldn’t be seeing the violence.