A look back while moving forward.
Almost 2 years ago I wrote a piece about equality for all. The Freddie Gray situation had just happened and rally's all across America were going down. 2 years later it feels as if nothing has changed. In fact they feel like they've gotten worse. Just look at who our current President is.
Without further ado a look back into the past...
-Equality for all-
These are trying times today in America. The poor are still poor, the rich are getting richer and sadly as much as we all may not want to admit it racism still exists in our great country. On Friday May the first I participated in my first ever rally and it was an eye opening experience. You see for years I've walked a fine line between caring about self and caring about social issues. I felt empathy but never really thought that there was much I could do. I used to think that what some of these people were going through didn't effect me. Yes I've experienced some of the injustices first hand but not to the point that I ever felt in danger. I've had police run in my pockets and harass me for just walking down the damn street.
As I've grown older over the years (a ripe 32) there has just been a feeling that would eat me up inside every time I saw or heard about something bad happening to a person of color. When I heard the news of 7 year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones my heart broke into a thousand pieces. I asked myself how has the police officer who did this not been held responsible for her death? I realize that the law is complex but this girls death was totally preventable. We are a society that constantly passes the buck! Where does that buck stop?
When I saw the riots break out in Baltimore I had a flash back to the riots of 92 over the Rodney King brutality trial. 4 police officers were caught on camera beating the living shit out of him for no real apparent reason. I was 9 years old when the riots happened and I still remember it very vividly. I remember buildings burning down to the ground, I remember that white truck driver being hit in the head with a brick. It was brutal and I just didn't understand why a person would do that to another person. Seeing those students throw those bricks at the police brought it all back to me. At first I was a little taken aback by it all. I said to myself "Why are they doing this?" Why would people destroy things in their very own community? The answer became quite clear.
The answer was that black lives matter! Let me explain what I mean by that because it's much deeper than a slogan. Black people have always in some shape or form been treated as second class citizens throughout this country's history. Our ancestors were brought here on boats and in chains and sold to the highest bidder. We weren't allowed to eat at the same tables, we couldn't drink from the same fountains, we couldn't go to the same schools, we couldn't get the same wages, we couldn't use the same bathrooms, we just weren't thought of as equals to SOME white people in this country. It took people like the late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Charles Steele, The Little Rock Nine, The Freedom Riders, Emmett Till, James Meredith, Medgar Evers, Malcom X, President Lyndon Johnson, Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael, JFK and countless other people and events to shape our very existence up to this point.
There is always a bit of truth in works of fiction. My mind was taken back to the HBO series titled "The Wire". There was a drug war going on in the Western District. There was a consistent theme to that show and no I'm not talking about the drugs and cops and robbers aspect. The consistent theme through all 5 seasons was cops of all colors beating the shit out of black males. Officer Herc always said it was "The Western District Way". That show was art imitating life. Black men in poor neighborhoods in Baltimore have been targeted by police officers for years. Brutality cases have hit an all time high! Since 2011 the city of Baltimore has paid out 5.7 Million dollars to police brutality victims. Think of all of the ones who have been beaten but haven't received justice at all! Combine that with the fact that an innocent man somehow wound up with a severed spine in police custody and you'll see how that was the match that lit the fire!
So there I stood with history repeating its self. While I don't agree with tearing down your own community I understand the root behind the actions. That's something that the majority of Americans can not! The events that have taken place in Baltimore inspired me to get out into the community and see just how it affected others. A friend of mine invited me to attend a rally here in Philadelphia. I came in not really knowing what to expect. I just knew that I'd had a burning desire to get out and be heard and that's what this was all about.
I heard countless stories from victims of police brutality. Stories from mothers who have lost their children, fathers who have lost sons, sisters who have lost brothers. Men and women of color have been treated as if they were the scum of the earth all because of the color of their skin.
What really struck me was seeing how people of all ages and races come together as one! I was moved deeply by it all. The images throughout this journal post all came from that experience. I'll let them do the rest of the talking.