In the wake of the recent tragedy in Baltimore, and as unrest continues to grow across America, several APB speakers are lending their insights to help explain the extensive social and cultural issues that are being thrust into the national spotlight. Following the funeral of Freddie Gray and the ensuing chaos,Michael Eric Dyson, Wes Moore, Kevin Powell and Eric Liu took to social media as well as The New York Times, Morning Joe, Huffington Post and CNN to voice their opinions and offer ways we, as a nation, should move forward.
Michael Eric Dyson penned a New York Times op-ed not only saying goodbye to Freddie Gray, but also to the silent submission of young people who will soon find what they need to build a life beyond suffering. The social fury that erupted was no surprise to the public intellectual and to help others make sense of the uprisings, he used a basketball analogy: “Often on the court, a player commits an offense…without being spotted by the referee. When the offended player strikes back, he is often hit with a foul. The black youths who took to the streets have been hit so often with unacknowledged assaults…that their violent responses are often viewed through a haze of social stigma that penalizes them without regard for context.”
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Baltimore native Wes Moore shared with Morning Joe why many people are not surprised about the uprising and that this was long time coming. He explained that this is not just about Freddie Gray, but also about the families who have experienced tragic losses due to police brutality. Moore says this is what happens when you have a combination of anger, disparity and opportunists – people feel the system is structurally not working for them, therefore sparking a common outrage for change.
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Kevin Powell shared his personal experiences with police brutality, racism and why that has changed him. His Huffington Post blog highlights the question many are asking, “Why Baltimore Is Burning.” He outlines how civil rights issues of the past are still unfortunately relevant and reoccurring today, which has resulted in tensions escalating. Rather than labeling the Baltimore situation as a “riot,” Powell states that society needs to understand why there is significant unrest to begin with, to not ignore what is happening and that all lives matter, equally.
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Eric Liu expressed his disappointment with society in his CNN article. Since the American culture has created such a deep distrust and disrespect against particular groups, Liu concludes that violence seemed the inevitable response to Freddie Gray’s death. He deems “we,” being all Americans, are authors of every page of Baltimore’s story. Why? Because “we” separate the aspects of the problem that don’t fit the preferred explanation, which makes our efforts to solve the problem insincere. Instead, he encourages everyone to take charge and push out of ideological and identity comfort zones.
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