“How are you doing?”
It’s a simple enough question, but one that has a stronger implicit meaning this week. Many keep asking me “How are you doing?” pointing their eyes toward the city. I keep asking my friends “How are you doing?” with my mind flying to people dancing at North and Penn encircled by police in riot gear. It’s a simple question, but right now, it’s an important question—an important act of social justice that I want to emphasize, and that I believe is crucial to a Critical Social Justice movement.
By reaching out to one another, asking open-ended questions, and really just caring, we are taking some of the first steps toward activism in this Baltimore Uprising.
Don’t know quite what I’m talking about yet? That’s okay. Here’s a quick run-down: I’m talking about the recent often peaceful, often turbulent release of years upon years of tension in Baltimore City. Though there are many instances that have pushed the Baltimore community, it has been the murder of Freddie Gray by police that has really motivated people all around to speak louder and fight for their voices.
According to the police, the young black man from West Baltimore made eye contact with a police officer, ran away, and was then arrested. In the time that he was taken to booking, he suffered critical injuries including a severed spinal cord and a crushed voice box that put him in the emergency room. A week later, on April 19th, Freddie Gray died. The police have yet to release a report on the incident, which has only exacerbated the frustration felt by many in Baltimore, but especially black folks who have had to bear the brunt of police brutality and institutionalized violence for centuries in this city. This frustration was funneled into organizing peaceful protests, (on Saturday, April 25th gaining ten thousand supporters) which sparked incredible dialogues that centered on violence, police, poverty, and racism in Baltimore. With stronger numbers taking part in the protests, came stronger police presence and higher tensions. On Monday, April 27th, police in riot gear isolated and cornered teenagers coming home from school and riots began to break out in small pockets around Baltimore. Since this rough Monday, militarization of the police has escalated, Gov. Hogan has called in the National Guard, and a curfew from 10 pm to 5 am has been set for the city.
With this unrest, however, we have also seen communities come together to clean up after property was damaged; people gathering to help board up windows and sweep up debris. We have seen people across Baltimore and in our neighboring counties come into the city to donate and prepare food for kids who weren’t getting lunch on their days off from school. We have seen organizations like the 300 Men March come into protests to create human walls between police in full riot gear and protesters dancing in drum circles. We have also seen many all over the world come out through social media, personal blogs, and progressive news organizations, writing articles about why we should care about what’s happening here in Baltimore and why we need the change so many of us have been chanting about.
Community members clean up the CVS at North and Penn.
There are many ways to get active with this movement, and the first step really is simple: it’s in caring. If you just read the above wall of text summarizing what has been going on here in Baltimore and felt a little something, then I think you’re on your first steps.
Those of us who support both Critical Social Justice as a week-long event and critical social justice as a way of being involved know that there are many different ways to show support for our communities and to be an activist that supports those fighting for justice in Baltimore. Often activism is thought of as something where you march with a hand-painted sign, but it can be so many more things and include so many other people. Critical Social Justice is about meeting people where they’re at, and fostering growth from that position. Here are some ways to be a critical social justice activist for the Baltimore Uprising: Continue reading