Vanessa Barksdale, ’17, Social Work, participated in protests on Friday, May 1st as part of the Baltimore uprising.
Riotous. Revolutionary. Uprising. Unseemly uproar. Its amazing how completely different words can be used to describe the same thing – Baltimore City. Whether we notice or not, the way wediscuss the city has the capacity to build it up or tear it down further. A friend of mine from highschool, who is a self-identified white woman said that the discriminatory language used todescribe Baltimore’s inhabitants “are almost as terrible as lighting a car on fire.”
And I agree. To casually spit the words “monkey” and “savage” and then turn your back on the actual people living through nightmares you will never see can be one of the most damaging things that anyone ever has the opportunity to do. In doing so, you talk yourself out of the fact that real people are having real experiences with a city that was once their home but is now a police state.
There are no words, truly, to describe watching your home become a scene from The Hunger Games or The Purge. There are no words to explain that your favorite mall in the entire city will never be the same. There are no words for watching armymen equipped with long black rifles glare at you while you walk down the road with two other college-aged women. There are no words for describing what it feels like to work up the nerve to ask one of the 50 guardsmen barricading your favorite restaurant when you can come back to eat there, but instead get met with a response so furiously icy that you leave in tears.
But most importantly, there are no words to explain how it feels to be a Black woman in a city that promised over and over again how it is for you, but instead meets you with every form of hostility the moment you challenge the notion.
Please, don’t assault Baltimore City with your language any further. This isn’t a riot; this is an uprising.
Contact the author, Vanessa Barksdale, at firstname.lastname@example.org.