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Black America has, thus far, failed to connect the dots between what
goes on Capitol Hill to what goes on on Martin Luther King, Jr. Bou­le­vard. Racism is a scourge; mold in America’s house. Conservative politics have poisoned American society by using racism as a political tool, making overt racism once again seem both normal and socially acceptable. This thinking surely has informed many authority figures, including police. With the right to vote, we really don’t need to be in the streets hollering, We could actually send a protest that could not be ignored.

I’m a news junkie

I usually have it on all day while I’m working. But, as I write this, all I hear are the endless drone of lawnmowers here in this subdivision. I can’t watch the news because every inch of it is dominated by Baltimore. Every show, every network, every talking head is filling airtime with useless feeds of nothing, so long as that nothing is coming from Baltimore. One correspondent heard a car horn honk, so there was—I kid you not—five minutes of roundtable discussion about what that car horn honking meant. More than 6,000 people died in the Nepal earthquake, 14,000 injured, millions of homes destroyed. New York U.S. District Attorney Loretta Lynch made black history when she was sworn in Monday as America’s first black female U.S. Attorney General. President Barack Obama’s approval rating crept up over 50% for the first time in years. Black America barely stifled a yawn; all eyes were on Baltimore and our collective outrage over the apparent murder in police custody of Freddie Gray.

Which is not to diminish the tragedy: we should be outraged. Gray was virtually lynched or, best case, negligently lynched by police offers who—from what few facts are available—apparently arrested Gray for running while black. There was some nonsense about a concealed knife, but if the knife was concealed, what was the police’s probable cause for running after Gray in the first place? Baltimore State’s Attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby, said in a statement that Gray’s knife was not, in fact, illegal: it was not a switchblade and it was closed and inside his pocket, thus invalidating his arrest in the first place.

As of this writing, there is less evidence to suggest the police cracked gray’s spine, though a knee to his back could certainly damage it, and a so-called “rough ride,” a form of off-the-books punishment routinely meted out by cops across the country, could most certainly have exacerbated Gray’s injury.

The truth is, we really don’t know what happened to Freddy Gray other than that, whatever did happen to him is a direct result of his handling by Police. It is, in truth, an old story: cops perform a routine roust—this was hardly a felony bust and they knew it—but something goes wrong and they’re stuck with a death-in-custody.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game: Many local residents can't afford tickets. One man commenting on the Orioles game played without an audience, "Can you imagine how frustrating it is to stand back and watch people going to the Orioles game all the time? So maybe it's apropos that nobody's there today." (NBC)

The Circus

Political opportunists of every stripe are cashing in on Freddie Gray, including one local pastor sporting his Twitter hash tag on his tee shirt. Bishop Jamal Harrison-Bryant has been bum-rushing every TV camera he can find, using Baltimore’s turmoil to help rebuild his tarnished reputation after allegedly fathering two children out of wedlock (including, reportedly, one with a 17 year old church member). Conservatives will come gunning for State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and, I promise you, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is running for governor.

The news media’s insatiable desire to milk the hell out of any breaking news—especially what is becoming a pattern of entertaining (yes) footage of dramatic police confrontations with the black urban poor—has led to this mind-numbing, round the clock coverage of Baltimore, as if there were absolutely nothing else going on in the world. Even when there’s absolutely nothing going on in Baltimore, there they sit: having a roundtable discussion about how nothing is going on at the moment. But they stay there. Why? Because it’s sexy. Baltimore has a sexy mayor. A sexy State’s Attorney. Cops deploying military hardware—sexy. The Crips and the Bloods (and, presumably other gangs the news media hasn’t heard of) enjoying a truce in order to attack cops—sexy.

I know, for certain, there is a segment of the American population—whites, but most assuredly many blacks and other minorities—who are actually enjoying these clashes. It’s why they tune it. And, because they tune in, the news media stays and bores me to tears having a roundtable discussion about roundtable discussions. This is entertainment for morons: for idiots, black or white, who get off on the tension, the threat of violence and actual violence. These folks conflate actual human tragedy with scripted TV drama; it’s all Reality TV to them. Hey, look—there’s a kid with a bottle. How many times are they going to replay that footage of the mother swatting her son upside the head and sending him home? And, for that matter, where on earth are all the fathers? I don’t guess, I *know* there are white people watching this and shaking their heads. Niggers acting their color. All this yelling, all this looting. Using human tragedy as an excuse for anarchy.

Come Election Day, however, the streets will be quiet. Most of these noise-makers will be going about their daily lives; too busy or too disinterested to show up and vote. It’s as if we’ve forgotten: the point of all of that marching back in the 60’s was to get us the right to vote. With the right to vote, we really don’t need to be in the streets hollering and making demands. We can make our demands known at the ballot box when we vote these sorry leaders out of office. If we showed up at the poll stations in anywhere near the numbers we show up in the streets, we could actually send a protest that would actually be heard.

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