Baltimore’s Passion and Pain
By Bernadette A. Moyer
Like people all across the country we watched in dismay and disgust and sadness as our beloved city Baltimore Maryland was destroyed by many of its own residents. Young black men that publicly displayed for the entire world their lack of hope and lack of respect and anger and frustrations in their very own hometown. Why? What could make a group of people believe that this was appropriate and acceptable behaviors?
They know better, we all know better, there isn’t a human being alive that thinks it is right and okay to hurl rocks and bricks and stones at other human beings. Regardless if the intended targets were police men and women.
We are living in a period of time when race relations are worse than what I ever witnessed in my lifetime. We have a black male President and Baltimore is run by a black female Mayor and yet race relations have not gotten any better. I believe that our President was elected because he is black! We want to believe that we are evolved and that the time was right just like many of us we want to see a woman president in our lifetime. But at what expense? Did we choose color over competence and will we choose gender over all, when that time arrives?
I want to see our evolution I want to believe that we had progressed as a country, but I also believe that Barack Obama was ill prepared and underqualified, there I said it! Under his leadership our country is more divided than ever? He was and is in a position to build bridges and yet he continues to fan the flames that separate us.
My father was a retired two term Korean War veteran and in one of our last conversations before he died he quietly said to me, “I don’t think this President likes white people.”
When all the unrest started to openly show itself in Baltimore I heard Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake state that she views this situation “from the prism of a black woman” we can all see that she is black and that she is a woman, so now what?
How about this Mr. President and Madame Mayor, how about transcending your color to be the leadership for ALL the people and for the greater good not just for the people that look most like you? How about putting the people ahead of politics? How about working toward bridging the gap and being a force for unity? Instead of further division?
When I witness the protests across the country my sense is that this is so much more than Freddie Gray. I really believe that young people across this country have every right to be fuming mad, mad because the tax and spend enormous debt that they are inheriting and mad because our leaders want to fund the medical care in this country on their young and healthy backs. It used to be that we wanted to leave the country better for the next generation it used to be that we saved before we spent and we planned ahead. We are handing our kids enormous debt and we have decided that our sick and elderly should be supported on the dime and the good health of today’s young person. We have done nothing to bring down health care costs. And much of it can be associated with insurance; malpractice insurance.
And before we judge the poverty and the inner city blacks and neighborhoods let’s look at what they have been asked to accept? We here in Baltimore have built back to back state of the art multi-million dollar stadiums in the same neighborhoods where schools have no libraries and no books and where kids don’t have enough food to eat? What message have we sent to them when we repeatedly show them by our actions that they don’t matter? I understand commerce as I am a successful businesswoman but I also am a mother who knows that these young people belong to all of us as they are the future of this country.
When a black man can make more money selling drugs than working at the corner store we can’t be surprised when he makes the choice to sell drugs. Truth is that many of these gangs are running successful businesses in drugs, using the very same skills that could be and should be used to run a legitimate successful business. They are smart and savvy businessmen, believe it.
When a neighborhood has been allowed to remain broken down and destroyed for the greater part of four decades and nothing has been done to fix it what messages are being portrayed by the people that live there and the young people that have never witnessed it any other way? The message is clear, the message is that no one cares. If we want people to have hope and to rise above poverty we must help them to attain the skills and give them that first hand up.
Years ago I worked in a special needs school that was major majority black and was both a day school with group homes. It came to the attention of the administration that supplies were missing and stolen. Supplies like tooth paste and toilet paper and soap. At first the staff was suspected but before long it was uncovered that some of the young boys that went home on the weekends to their families were actually the ones stealing. Why? Because they knew when they went home that mom couldn’t afford toilet paper, soap and tooth paste. So rather than have these kids steal, the leadership packed them bags that contained these items. Most of us can’t image what it would be like not to have our basic needs met and not to have toilet paper or soap or tooth paste.
Baltimore City residents have a right to expect more and to expect better. It is no secret that Baltimore City has one of the highest homicide rates in the country. Baltimore has a history of corruption and one of the most upsetting news that was recently revealed was the staggeringly high salaries of many City School Administrators, most of whom are black. Salaries that exceeded $150,000 and $200,000 a year. In a school system also majority black where many young people are not getting their educational needs met.
When I sat with my husband and watched the Baltimore City police being abused and the numerous felonies that took place while the police watched I was bewildered and angry and dismayed. We expect our police to “serve and to protect” and it was clear that their boss the Mayor of Baltimore had given the orders to “stand down” I don’t care if you are black, white, pink or purple burning a business a car and assaulting people and police is illegal. It is criminal behavior.
There is a whole lot of healing that needs to take place in this country and in Baltimore City and many other cities. I don’t think that the black leadership can continue to get away with the mantra “I feel your pain, when I see you, I see myself” we expect more from our leaders, they need to be mature enough and evolved enough to transcend their color and the color of all people in this country and do what is best. We are all people! We all bleed red! This is a great country and yet we have shown the world our darkest and dirtiest and saddest side.
Baltimore has many beautiful neighborhoods and world renowned hospitals and universities. The majority of its people are hardworking and good and generous people. I believe that it is through the struggle that we find enlightenment and good can come from all this unrest but first we have to want it and work toward it and we have to choose leaders that unite us and not ones that continue to divide us.
Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
Bernadette has resided in Baltimore County since 1982 and is married to Brian Sahm who was born and raised in Baltimore City and who served Baltimore City as a Civil Servant for 35 years.