Scott Murdock, ’08, Psychology, also known as his drag alter-ego Shaunda Leer, is a lifelong Baltimore resident.
[A version of this post originally appeared on Facebook on April 28, 2015].
I am the child and grandchild of policemen, both of whom worked in Baltimore City and more. There were nights as a child that I feared for my father’s safety. I knew he had a job to do. I just wanted him to come home. I also grew up not being “black enough” for some and not “white enough” for others. I never fit in. I never wanted to. I never wanted to be “enough” of anything but myself. To this day I hear those words but I’ve grown to let them roll off my back. The truth of the matter is I wanted to spread love to everyone I met. I’ve always been that way. I always will be.
I grew up in Baltimore. I knew it wasn’t perfect. We are a rare breed of a city. We are a rare breed of people. I have seen the beauty in it. I believe I have now seen the ugliest of it. This city, Baltimore, is my home. I grew up believing I may be able to make some difference in it somehow. I did not know how. I did not care. I just wanted a chance to do so.
Over the past few days, these thoughts (and more) have surrounded me in a complicated mass of confusion and uncertainty. But I chose to wait. I chose to wait because I knew the beauty that exists in my city. And today, more than ever, I saw it.
I saw libraries open because the staff knew these children needed the opportunity to still learn and educate themselves. I saw communities band together to form human shields protecting those attempting to keep peace. I saw neighborhoods form committees to clean up the massive damage. I saw organizations create opportunities for children kept home from school to get out their rage constructively – through art, dance, song, words. I saw my city spit in the face of every single person out there who has claimed shame for Baltimore, who has disgraced Baltimore, who has said it is beyond redemption, who have already etched its tombstone. DESPITE THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I SAW MY CITY RISE.
Police brutality exists. Frustration exists. Racism exists. Anger exists. Everything is boiling over. But despite all of that, GOOD exists. Call me foolish, stupid, naive but I believe in a Baltimore that is bigger than the destruction that has played out these past few days. No fear I have for what currently exists exceeds the hope I have for my city. It never will.
I am from Baltimore. I am Baltimore. I am that kid who threw a brick at the police. I am that clergyman who pushed people back from the police. I am the mother who pulled her child up out of the street. I am the man on a megaphone screaming that we won’t take this anymore. I am the policeman looking to keep a city safe. I am that “thug” portrayed in the media. I am that educated hope. I am every part of this city because I AM THIS CITY.
Unfriend me because I won’t unfriend any of you. I am not afraid of this discussion. I am not afraid of your viewpoints. I am not afraid because there is so much more to fear than the opinions of those who have already condemned me or my city. Maybe, JUST maybe, if I don’t act so quickly to close that line of communication – if we all don’t act so quickly to close that line of communication – then perhaps somewhere along the line at least one person’s mind might begin to think differently. And one person is one more than yesterday. It’s a change, however small.
As it stands, I am here. I am strong. I am Baltimore.
And I am not dead yet.