I have thought long and hard about writing this post and gone back and forth on it. Certainly nothing I’m about to write about is making me happy, but this is the space I have created for extended thoughts online so here it lives. I moved to Baltimore just shy of fifteen years ago to go to graduate school. I never planned to stay once I was done with school, but here I remain thirteen years after I vowed to leave. Baltimore has become my city and my home. It’s doubtful I’ll ever leave. I have seriously thought in the past few weeks unrelated to anything that has happened in the news recently about where else I would be willing to move, and ultimately I really haven’t been able to come up with anywhere else I would rather call home.
What is currently happening in my city breaks my heart. I am heartbroken. I feel hopeless that there is a way that we are going to find a way out of this, this something that has its roots in things that are so systemic and go back so far that it’s hard to imagine change can come. I feel helpless because I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where I fit in or how I can help. I recognize that the Baltimore I get to live in is not a Baltimore that many of this city’s residents know. It’s not right. It has never been right, and I understand why we’ve ended up where we are. It doesn’t mean I’m not devastated to see the city I love being destroyed.
I’ve spent more time following the situation on Twitter and Facebook than is probably healthy. I’ve seen so many posts and Tweets and ReTweets from people in Baltimore, but also from people who aren’t and many whom I’m guessing have never set foot in this city. Everyone has opinions and everyone thinks they are right. I watched a lot of love, but I’ve also seen a lot of hate and lack of compassion. I’ve seen people slammed for expressing their opinions both in support of the residents of Baltimore who are acting out their frustrations and for those supporting the law enforcement on the ground. There is hate and hurt and anger and fear on all sides, and it makes me sad that we have forgotten that every single one of these people is a fellow human with human emotions both good and bad. One of the reasons I seriously thought about not writing this was because I didn’t want to have to deal with the fall out from both sides of people telling me I’m wrong and I don’t understand and all the myriad other things that I’ve seen over the past few days.
I decided I don’t want to stay silent though. I have no answers. Mostly all I have is hurt. I don’t know where my place is. I don’t live in these neighborhoods. Even though many of these places are not far from me, I don’t live what these people live. I’ve seen posts from white people who want to show their support and go in and help and I’ve seen posts from black people asking the white people to not try to come in and play savior. I don’t know what the right answer is. Doing nothing seems wrong, but so does jumping in the middle of something that isn’t my fight and I will never have a way to truly understand because I have never lived it.
So I will continue to pray for Baltimore and all the people in it. I will pray for peace and for reconciliation and a way forward that is better than the way we’ve come from. I will stay in the city I love. I will continue to stay in the city and not move out to the county despite higher property taxes and worse services. When Mondawmin Mall, the site where the worst riots started, reopens I will continue to shop there just as I did before. I will continue to support organizations in this city that are fighting to make it a better place each and every day. I love Baltimore and I stay because I believe in it. I don’t know what the next few days and weeks will bring, but whatever it may be I will be here. At the moment I don’t know what else to do, but that’s what I have to offer for now. It may not be enough. I know it’s not.