While Fox and CNN were telling you what to think about black Baltimoreans’ response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, The Real News Network convened a town hall discussion in which members of the community were free to speak for themselves.

“Generally speaking,” one young man said in response to a question about the curfew instituted by city officials, “my problem with news coverage — the mainstream media coverage — is that people always want to moralize on black folk when we destroy property in the face of injustice, but no one moralizes on the police officers who kill black people. And so we’re having all this conversation about, ‘Is it right or wrong that we’re destroying CVS?’ CVS is not of and from the black community, so if a black person sees a CVS and is angry about the killing of Freddie Gray, then, you know, that’s gonna happen. So what we should do is fix the racism and white supremacy that’s embedded in the systemic oppression of black folk, not moralizing on 17-, 16- and 15-year-olds who bomb a CVS.”

He continued: “When you start using words like ‘state of emergency,’ ‘national guard,’ ‘curfew,’ these are all words of social control, and the thing is, when you look at it from a systemic level, this is always how this country has dealt with black people. When you look at the different protests that happened during the LGBT movement, no one calls those things riots. They called them ‘fighting for justice.’ They called them ‘fighting for freedom.’ But when black people do it, all of a sudden we’re rioters, and people use the words like ‘thug’ in the media. But it’s like, if your son or daughter was killed by the police, I’m sure you would riot. If I was killed by the police, I would think my family would riot. So the thing is, we should be looking at it from a systemic standpoint and understand the ways in which we could transform systems.

… “I don’t think violence is a great strategy. I don’t endorse it as a strategy, but if people are upset, I’m not gonna tell black people you can’t be violent. You should probably be mad. And if you’re not mad, then something’s wrong. And so we should be using this as an opportunity to pull in young black people, to figure out how we can get them involved in actually making systemic change and not let them get high off their adrenaline and come down after a week of chaos. And so, to answer your question about the curfew, I think that was an afterthought: ‘We need to get social control over the Negroes.’ That’s what they were doing.”

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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