When I hear on the news “they are burning their own neighborhoods”
I remember how refugees detained half-a-world away protest
by sewing their own mouths shut,
how overcast stitches of twine finish the cut edges
of faces that might otherwise unravel
Which is more silent: a stitched mouth
or a crushed larynx?
(Freddy Gray howled, the last time we heard him speaking.)
In one corner of my mind, gratitude mixes with grief
for a city still shouting even as
Links on the situation in Baltimore — especially as regards media coverage and issues of violence/nonviolence — follow below the jump.
Ta-nehisi Coates, as always, authors a must-read:
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.
Urban uprisings are not necessarily great tactics for social change (though sometimes they are) and they’re not nonviolent direct action. We already know that. But before you criticize some young people of color for not engaging in nonviolent tactics, ask yourself: am I actively engaged in nonviolent tactics for social change on these issues? Or am I quietly acquiescent with the system that perpetuates the violence that makes their lives impossible?
And from Mic.com, how One Tweet Shows the Hypocrisy of the Media’s Reaction to Riots in Baltimore. (h/t David Wells)
[If you’re curious about my reference to refugees sewing their mouths shut? Here is more on that.]
My thoughts go out to the family and friends of Freddy Gray tonight. May they find peace and healing in their grief. For the people of Baltimore — and of so many other hurting communities — I wish for you safety, healing, and justice. A true justice, which must mean (in the words of Mychal Denzel Smith) “a lasting justice that values black life.”