Stop what you are doing, those of you who are destroying Baltimore. You are ruining your city, and your own futures. Yes, you are angry, and destructive protest is your voice. People are listening and watching; the news vans and the reporters are filming you. Not the fat-cats and the politicians and all those that usually get airtime, but you.
It won’t last; it never does. The cameras will move on and the numbers of police will grow. But you may lose your life, or your future. It really might happen. Maybe you don’t have a future, you think. You don’t remember the last time you got a good grade in school or a decent job, you’ve had at least one family member killed by gun violence, and you have resorted to using and/or selling drugs. Money and food are often scarce, and you are sick of the dead, hopeless look in your mother’s eyes.
Where is your America? Everything was supposed to be getting better now. We have a black President, and hope was on the way. But still you remain on the fringes of the city you have known forever. You can’t afford Orioles tickets; you stand outside the ballpark smoking cigarettes. You can’t enjoy a meal at the Inner Harbor – the cops stare you down when you are in that part of the city. And you move on.
There is only one way to get revenge, and that is to rise above it. Your poverty is winning, right now. You can’t see that. Your poverty – of wallet, of education, of opportunity, and of spirit – is winning. You need to rise up on the inside, where it matters. Go home and stay home. Do what every true American success story has ever done; they have started from nothing.
The police are moving in, and next week you will be sitting in your hopelessness once again – if you aren’t in jail. Only you can change your path. Listen to your elders, the ones that truly care about you. Pray. Get back to school. Stop relying on the government and the endless flimsy programs that make politicians look busy, and anything else that lifts responsibility off of your own back. You were born for a reason, and this is not it.
We want to know what happened to Freddie. His family needs and deserves an investigation, and justice. This isn’t about him anymore though, is it?
Go home, angry Baltimoreans. Listen to your mothers. Rebuild your lives.
Today is a new day.
Deirdre Reilly has written one humor book, and authored a syndicated family life column for Gatehouse Media for 13 years. She has won a Massachusetts Press Award for humor, her op-eds have been published in the Boston Herald and The Hartford Courant, and she has had short fiction published in literary journals. Deirdre was raised in Columbia, Md., and now lives outside Boston, Ma. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, and is obsessed with the care and happiness of a retired carriage horse named Nello that she bought for a few hundred dollars on a menopausal whim.