Here we go again.
On the Saturday evening when Washington's political, media, and entertainment elite got together for the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, the city of Baltimore (about 40 miles away) was erupting into violent protest. CNN decided to cover what was happening on the Dinner's red carpet, and ask their fellow twenty-four hour news anchors questions like "What celebrity are you most excited to see?", while the city of Baltimore was getting ready to boil over. John Stewart did a critical, and sadly funny, bit on the April 27th installment of The Daily Show. It not only showed how out of touch our media is, but also how out of touch we are.
This was all in response to what has become the next chapter in the on-going saga that is America's police vs. black men. This time a young black man, while being taken into police custody, had his spinal chord severely injured and died later. Of course in the aftermath, the police are saying "It's not our fault!" and the inner-city youth most affected by these things are saying "This is our life on a daily basis." Yet again, the latest incident has taken place in a city that is mired in crime, violence, and (of course) poverty. West Baltimore served as inspiration for HBO's The Wire and was also where the book "The Corner" took place. This community is not unlike Ferguson, Missouri, or East St. Louis Missouri, or Newark, New Jersey, or the south side of Chicago, or,,,you get the idea.
Sunday night, West Baltimore erupted into full scale violence. There was looting, burning of stores, and (of course) violent clashes with police. And (of course) there were the voices in media asking why "the people" of this community think burning the place down is going to make things better. They shrug their shoulders in confusion, and shake their heads in disgust while trying to act concerned. My question to them is: Where was this confusion, concern, and disgust while cities like West Baltimore were rotting on the vine for the last, oh I don't know, thirty years? Why aren't media pundits and/or politicians questioning why American cities, and their citizens, are allowed to erode into a third world country existence? Where was Joe Pundit when the number of people living below the poverty line in West Baltimore went below the national average? Where was Joe Pundit when the Ferguson Police were arresting and fining its citizens for "violations" like walking the wrong way down the street? Where was Joe Pundit when the young men on the south side of Chicago started calling their community Chiraq because of the violence and poverty?
The smoke has cleared from Baltimore, the ashes are swept up, and the he police involved in the death of the young man have been arrested and charged with murder. Funny thing is, the police will have the support of a strong fraternal community to turn to. Other departments around the country will have that community teach them new tactics and implement new protocols. They will receive help, guidance, and, hopefully, be taught how to change. Many community police departments have already done this (body cameras), and continue to do so. In other words: the police will have help in changing and evolving. But what will happen to West Baltimore? How is change going to come to that community? The community (like the others mentioned) is dysfunctional and lacks true resources to implement any significant change, and (sadly), I don't see any change coming soon.
I beg Joe Pundit to go back to West Baltimore in three years and see what has occurred. Check in with the community and see what problems have been addressed. Have their been jobs created? Are the streets safe? Have the schools improved? Has the rate of poverty decreased?
I think we all know the answer.