Let me start off by saying that I am speaking from a place of privilege. I am an unimportant voice in all of this. I simply wanted to provide my perspective, my take, in the hopes that it will comfort or help someone to gain an understanding of what is happening.
So, I will start with a point of common reference. Everyone has probably seen the woman who saw her son on television at the riots and then promptly smacked him silly. In an interview after the fact, the woman comments that she was scared that her son would die in the riots and that she wanted to impress on him that he was in grave danger.
Now, whatever you feel about what is going on in Baltimore, you most likely felt that her reaction was justified. You may not condone violence ordinarily, but you can see where this woman was coming from. At core, you saw her as a worried, protective mother, not a crazed rioter. She was beyond scared for her 16-year-old son. She was afraid he would become another “Freddie Gray” when he threw rocks at the police. She was frightened that she would lose a dear loved one.
So, if you can see where she’s coming from…why can’t you understand why the riots are happening?
Maybe you’re still confused about how the two are connected, so I’m going to make this really easy. Look, everyone is scared. They don’t want to become another statistic. They are tired of not having a voice. They don’t want any more of their loved ones to die. So, some of them are getting violent, as this woman did with her son. Actually, she is the perfect metaphor for this entire situation. She was frightened and frustrated, so she lashed out. She got violent toward her son so that no one else became violent toward him.
Baltimore is that one mother on a bigger scale.
The riots are what happens when some people realize that they may have to get violent to ensure their children, parents, and loved ones get home safe.
I would also like to point out that I use the word some because not everyone is rioting. Others are peacefully marching, practicing nonviolence. This is not what is generally covered on the news because “if it bleeds it leads.” But I would like to acknowledge that there are people who are not expressing their frustration in a violent way, even though they have every right to.
In the end, this is more than trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand. It’s knowing that you don’t have any clue what someone might be feeling, but that you can always recognize a human being who is trying to protect their loved ones.
For that alone, you have no right to condemn what is happening in Baltimore.
You too could find yourself slapping the ones you love to save them from a greater danger. You too could find yourself throwing a brick to save a friend from the brutality of another hand. You too could find yourself rioting in the streets to make sure your family is safe.
And for that, you cannot and must not judge anyone else’s actions.