While the majority of mainstream media remains hell bent on crucifying the citizens of Baltimore in the wake of the riots that ensued after the death of 25 year old Freddie Gray, TIME Magazine is focusing on the root of the issues plagueing Baltimore, and many other cities across the country. In the issue to hit stands May 11th, the historical mag dives head first into the decades of systematic racism that became, in the words of President Obama “a slow-rolling crisis”.
For Nine uncomfortable months we have wrestled in new ways with our centuries-old conversation about race. The roots of these days of rage, whether in Ferguson or North Charleston or Baltimore, reach down through decades of compounded failures. Each flash point is different; so was each community’s response. But there is something universal about them all. As Obama noted, during remarks in the Rose Garden that ranged from determined to despairing, “I think we, as a country, have to do some soul-searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades. And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities,” he continued, in Baltimore and elsewhere “you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty.” The parents, “often, because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves, can’t do right by their kids.”
As much as the issues of Baltimore have to do with the lack of financial backing, middle class diversity and family structure, there is no denying that systematic racism remains at the forefront of the conversation.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, who came to the city after leading police departments in Oakland and Long Beach, Calif., has used similar language. “When I came to Baltimore, it was like going back in time,” Batts said in an interview earlier this year. Parts of the city, predominantly white, are full of “old money … very affluent, very beautiful.” Those stand apart from the “areas that are very challenged.” This sharp segregation is the lens through which Baltimore sees its problems. “It’s about black and white racism in that city. It’s all the things you dealt with in the 1960s,” Batts said.
Now that we are FINALLY seeing the problem (or admitting it), what now? Long standing issues including the lack of opportunity in predominantly black neighborhoods, the lack of proper educational and program funding and the ever present distrust between police and minorities are a few that must be addressed NOW. What do you think needs to happen to rebuild not only the city of Baltimore, but predominantly black communities across the country.
To read the entire TIME Magazine cover story click here.