Current Events

Ashes of Baltimore: A conversation we need to have

The following is a Guest Post from Bill Underwood, a good friend, high school classmate, and fellow marathoner. Bill posted this on his Facebook status hours after the media reported protesting turned to rioting in Baltimore. I asked his permission to post it here as well.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Last night when Baltimore erupted into looting and violence, I wasn’t angry anymore, it was just sad.

More fallout from Ferguson, Mo. Another dead Black man, and no answers. Cops doing the same procedures for generations, and now they have to answer to them. A group of African Americans at the brink and ready to destroy what they worked for in Baltimore.

What I was watching a tragedy.  An American Tragedy. A disaster many, many years in the making.  And with disasters of all types, there has to be a lot of working parts in order for them to build them into the horror they become. A lack of warning. Not taking it seriously, downplaying the danger, a lack of preparation.

And what you get a riot in an American City, a massive failure of all sides of society, the police, of the leaders of the city the mayor, the lack of understanding between poor and rich, black and white, a lack of perspective and history. A feeling of humiliation, a lack of education. Of understanding. Of Compassion. And a spark. The death of Freddy Gray.

And in these situations, everyone is right, and everyone is completely wrong. .

There were things that should have been said. Answers given, and promises to be kept were forgotten or ignored. Progress lost, people lost and forgotten. Mayors and leadership come and go. People exploited for votes for change that never comes or fear that never subsides.

And here we are. And an American city is burning itself to the ground. The National Guard has arrived. There are no quick answers and so many questions. So many we don’t know how we got here. We don’t know even where to start.

There has to be a point in time where we are going to look at each other as Americans and never be afraid not to ask the questions we need to ask. And we will feel glad we did. And we’ll know our neighbors and friends. And there will be no fear, but understanding. I hope this will happen soon. I hope every day.

I hope that will come out of the ashes of Baltimore.

Polar Dash 2013

Bill and me at the 2013 Polar Dash


Bill was recently interviewed for NPR’s story Fear Of Black Men: How Society Sees Black Men And How They See Themselves


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