Read this. It’s ultimately going to be about you.
My first public response on the Baltimore riots…
I don’t do politics. Decency isn’t the property of any particular philosophy or movement. It doesn’t belong to the left, or the right or the center.
Whatever did or didn’t happen to Freddie Gray in Baltimore…to think there is anything to be gained by rioting, looting, destroying businesses and plunging a city into darkness…we know better.
This was an organized, synchronized, social media engineered movement. It wasn’t spontaneous. It was by mostly young people with a sense of entitlement far beyond what they’ve earned.
I don’t know what prejudices they’ve had to encounter, and at the moment I don’t care. They had access to technology that planned this.
They didn’t go to Freddie Gray’s funeral. They didn’t know him. They’re undoing all the work of Dr. Martin Luther King and every hero that came after him.
This is a gutless, soulless excuse for cowardice. And yes, it’s easy for me to say it 300 miles removed from the scene in front of a laptop.
But I have much more respect for someone who uses the processes of justice already in place and who lives in integrity to make themselves better…than an organized descent into hatred that’s no different from that of ISIS.
I’m not moving too far off that statement, with a couple of exceptions.
First, I wrote it on April 27, the first night of the looting. Like most of us, my first instinct was to be angry at the most visible element of it, which
was the looting, the violence, the disregard for one’s own community.
Then when I saw the fact that many people in the neighborhoods went and cleaned up the damage, it brought things a bit more into perspective.
My sense is that high school kids (the rioters seem to be mostly in their teens) are of the “respond first and think later” type. I know I was!
And any sense of injustice combined with raging hormones will get people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
So yes, it’s terrible what happened. And that many unsupervised kids out on their own is a problem unto itself.
It also so happens that unchecked police power combined with poverty produces a recipe for disaster. If you’re curious, Google the Zimbardo prison experiments.
I have to step back and wonder how it would feel to constantly walk around feeling like a suspect, simply because of my skin color.
And like it or not, that is very much the American condition. Maybe it’s everywhere.
Yes, there are opportunities for black men and women to break through. We see it everyday.
But it is also an assault on their dignity to have to work harder to prove something.
Some people will give into the sense of powerlessness and rob, steal, pillage and destroy.
The strongest among the community raise the bar. But it takes patience, desire and time.
And yes, it is politics…at its most basic level.
Not liberal or conservative. Not Democrat or Republican.
Politics. The setting of policy and the allocation of resources we all pay into.
I’m not going to listen to people who say the 911 operators don’t send police into black neighborhoods. And I won’t hear about organized conspiracies to keep African Americans down.
In the end it all comes down to the same thing…
Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.
No, you don’t have to be ultra-talented.
Just make it bad business for the people with money to ignore you.
If you represent market share, make people earn your business.
If you have value to give, give it. And get better at it all the time.
If “the man” won’t let you play, start your own thing.
It worked for Damon John. And Russell Simmons.
And it worked for millions of others of smart, ambitious immigrants and social
classes…of every color.
Yes, there are continuing injustices. And a media who isn’t the least bit shy about covering them.
Use the system. Put the spotlight of shame on the cops and others who play the game dirty.
Same goes for the housewife who’s been under her husband’s thumb for thirty years.
And for the privileged rich kid who has a dream in his or her heart but hasn’t found the courage to stand up to parents who won’t listen.
And for a father who’s a wage slave to his job…and hasn’t figured out how to break out of the box he’s in.
Most won’t ever break through.
The ones who do pave the way for the next generation.
And have a damn good time doing it.
What say you about Baltimore?
How does it fit into your own life?
Comment below. Like, share and Tweet above. Someone is waiting for your insight and compassion to speak out.