Baltimore Speaks: A BET Special
Last week I had the privilege of attending a special live taping at BET Networks, the point of the special was to discuss the recent events that had transpired in Baltimore after the killing of Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray was taken into custody by the Baltimore police and died a week later in a coma and suffered a severe spine injury. The public later found out that his vocal cords had been crushed. When the news broke in Baltimore protests started, the people of Baltimore wanted answers. Things heated up and protests turned physical when people in the community started to hit police cars. Things took a turn for the worse as the days passed and Baltimore was literally set on fire.
Media outlets across the country called what happened in Baltimore the work of thugs, they were at a lost for words, not because of the murder of Freddie Gray but because a CVS was burning. Never once mentioning that this was a reaction to the killing of Freddie Gray at the hands of police officers. The “riot” became the focus and not what led up to those events. If you didn’t know any better after watching mainstream news you would think that the people of Baltimore just woke up one morning and decided to burn down their own community. BET decided to do a live special to ask the hard questions to try to figure out where do we go from here?
When I arrived at BET I knew that the conversation was going to be passionate, there were so many mixed emotions. The green room was filled with people from all walks of life, you had press, bloggers, writers, community leaders from Baltimore, community members from Baltimore, gangs from Baltimore, an array of people all joined together to try and figure out how to preserve the existence of our Black men and women. What stood out to me most during the live taping were the gang members, the infamous Bloods and Crips were in the studio. They called a truce and decided to come together to help the community. It was an anomaly for some and for others it seemed normal, they all came with good ideas to help the community but I had to wonder if they realized what they represented when they spoke on behalf of the community?
Both gangs are notorious for committing crimes in the very community that they are trying to preserve. One panelist called them out. Basically stating that they were no better than the cops who killed Freddie Gray because they are violent in their own communities. Many nods came in agreement and the younger gang members found it highly offensive. So much so that some left the studio while others voiced their anger back and questioned her position. Community leaders wanted the community to become more involved, Thought leaders and activists tried to spread the word about how to get involved in the community. I sat and began to let what everyone was saying sink in, and while we all had these great ideas I wanted to know which ones would actually work. There is a big break in communication between the youth in the community, the adults, and the community leaders. Each group had these amazing ideas but nobody was talking to each other.
The gang members don’t talk to the community leaders, the community leaders don’t talk to the people who actually live in the community, and people in the community don’t even know who to call in the Mayor’s office. And when all hell breaks loose everyone is scrambling trying to put pieces together that were never in place to begin with. There has to be someone from every group willing to stand up and speak on behalf of their respective group. The gang member needs someone who will speak to the community leader, the community leader then needs to be able to speak to the people in the community, take that information and get it to where it needs to go. There has to be some form of chain of command without judgment. One of the biggest problems in that room was everyone questioned motives and started pointing fingers. I can’t count how many times I heard, “Where were you when____ happened?”
Black men and women are being killed and mishandled by policed at ridiculous rates, how many protests and rallies happened in less than six months? We can’t follow one story long enough to see the outcome before we are putting our sneakers back on to march because another black person was killed for no reason by police. We have to come together because we are being killed off and nobody is doing a thing about it. In the beginning I was one of those people in the room looking at the Bloods and Crips wondering why in the hell are they here? Both gangs represent violence, and then I thought without judgement and realized their lives matter. Even if they have a past, even if they do something wrong they should be covered and protected by the law. That is what the law is in place for, that’s why we have a due process. The law is supposed to protect everyone and when that is not carried out it doesn’t matter what color you wear you have to stand up for what is right. If the Bloods and the Crips can come to a truce then we must come together and leave judgments at the door because we are literally being killed off.
The BET special was a good step in the right direction, I would have liked to see more coverage from BET while everything was actually happening in Baltimore. Mainstream media has a way of showcasing one side of the story and I believe that if BET would cover topics like this as it happens and not once the dust settles it could help restore some balance.
I caught up with Kwame Rose who’s video went viral after being filmed telling reporter Geraldo Rivera to get out of Baltimore. If you don’t remember him watch the video below…
When I saw his video I wanted to know who was the guy that said everything I was thinking? When I finally met Kwame, there was only one question I just had to get answered, “What made Kwame take a stand against Geraldo and FOX news?” I got my answer, check out the video below…
Watch the full BET special below