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Pushed to the breaking point

By Dr. E. Faye Williams
On May 11, 2015

Protestors call for justice for Freddie Gray as Baltimore police watch. The city unrest stems from
police brutality, other social issues.
Credit: Freddie Allen/NNPA

( – Natural laws that shaped the behavior of “old folks” are often tossed aside in our modern world. Rather than depending upon the common-sense reliability of the tried and true, we defer to some modern perspective. After reflecting on several of the “old laws” I was taught, I’m convinced that they have greater applicability than many of the new. With certainty, one of the most important is “you reap what you sow.”

I believe this to be true for the recent situation in Baltimore, and in cities across the nation where people of all races are fed up with the indiscriminate murder at the hands of those who’re sworn to protect us.  Although I embrace the philosophy of non-violent resistance espoused by King and Gandhi, I’m not so unrealistic as to believe that even the most peaceful being cannot be pushed to the breaking point.

While some talking heads offer simple-minded explanations of the outrage in Baltimore, we must not forget that the unrest is far more complex than can be discussed on a Sunday morning talk show. Those who don’t experience what happens in some of our neighborhoods inside and outside Baltimore seem overly eager to proclaim a lessening of violence and tension. They’ve made the shortsighted miscalculation that time and the manipulation of information can assuage the rage. Even worse, they believe that the problem lies solely within the boundaries of that city.

It’s unreasonable to believe that the Black community would allow itself to languish in poverty and suffer in silence forever. Those who agree with me are numerous, but few reside in the ranks of those sufficiently politically entrenched to make the sweeping actions necessary to create real change. Most of those that can initiate change seem to be trapped in the mindset that the fate of Black people is to live in deprivation.

I know some will suggest that my sole focus in life is political, but I must report the things I see.  Since the election of President Obama, I’ve observed Republicans vilifying him no matter what he does. Instead of allowing the economic initiatives of the President to bring the nation closer to full-employment, they appear to be hell-bent on holding the nation’s poor more deeply in poverty to satisfy the impression that the President is doing little to ease their plight. This readily translates into the socio-economic deprivation that has ignited the flames of rage in Baltimore.

Logic dictates that we look for similar eruptions in other places that mirror conditions in Baltimore. Such events MUST start an intelligent discussion for “real” social reform. This discussion must be as comprehensive as the problem. It’s far too late for a “Band-Aid fix.” Issues of malpractice in policing are only the catalyst of the problems. Festering issues of unemployment, mis-education, and the lack of real opportunity to improve quality-of-life concerns must be addressed before a remedy can be realized.

Before the greed of the wealthy became the primary interest of politicians, public policy provided the means for more to share in the bounty. President Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System and put millions to work.  The technological and industrial renaissance that paralleled that road construction created a vibrant middle-class and growing economy.

President Obama proposed a national effort to modernize and repair our failing infrastructure. Intransigent Republicans have thwarted these proposals for their own selfish political interests.

If we’re really committed to remedying the ills that have fostered the unrest in Baltimore, we must focus on the solution rather than in the redundant debate of why it happened. We have all the evidence we need to answer the why.  We must address the how in concrete terms.

Stop talking and act now!

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