Maybe we should care before the riots. It seems that riots are what cause upheaval and intense emotion. Like this latest one in Baltimore. People seemed concerned because a CVS was set afire. And others were worried about the senior citizen building that was ablaze. Did you see it? How could “they” do such a thing? Those poor buildings burned and it’s clear why this would provoke anger; those apartments were in the making since 2006. Clearly it will take a long time to re-build another structure. But how long will it take Fredericka, Freddie Gray’s twin sister, to re-build a life without her brother?
Maybe we should care before the police brutality. Perhaps before the inexplicable happened to Freddie Gray in the back of a squad car. Or before Mike Brown was executed and left for dead in the hot summer street. Prior to Eric Garner’s video-recorded, police chokehold. Before John Crawford was murdered for allegedly waving a toy gun around in a right-to-carry state. And well before the cop that shot Tamir Rice in front of his sister. After all, he was just a man-child, pre-pubescent. Yes. Maybe we should care before another police officer feels his life is threatened by an unarmed Black man.
Maybe we should care before the poverty. But I’m not quite sure how to accomplish that one. You see 23% of the total population lives below the Baltimore poverty line. That’s an urban city though. It’s typical. Did you know that Ferguson is considered a suburb? And that Missouri community has about 26% living below the poverty line? I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t they just get jobs? Why don’t they just pull themselves up like my dad, mom, grandma, grandpa? Like me? Why don’t they?
I’m sure if they could find employment, then they would. And their minimum wage jobs would prevent them from being killed like the useless parts of society that they seem to represent. But the fact here is, we’ll never know. We’ll never know if Freddie Gray could’ve worked his way out of poverty. Mike Brown’s mother will never realize her son’s community college dreams, which may have lifted him higher. Tamir Rice’s mother and sister won’t even get to see him graduate middle school, high school or college, much less understand how a job would shift his life’s purpose.
So maybe we should care before the riots, before the police brutality and before the poverty. Maybe we should be active, instead of reactive.