Well, those of you who have kept in touch with me over the past few months know that I have moved out of the shared apartment in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore into a stunning mid-nineteenth century building in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of the same city. During the month of April - which included the gravely unfortunate death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent peaceful protests as well as the profoundly harrowing uprising of April 27, 2015 - as I looked at apartments I took a day to walk through Mt. Vernon and felt as if I were "home".
Home. Yes. After all, I did grow up in Charleston, and the acknowledgement of history that fuels downtown Charleston is the same as that which drew me to taking an apartment in central Baltimore.
While I COULD go into the concept of "home" and how August Wilson wrote that a sense of rootlessness is pervasive in the lives of African-American men, I shall not. One of the wonderful things about being rooted - for now - is that I'm interacting with neighbors and members of my community, those neighbors including a chef who recently received her Rosette while working at a local boutique hotel that simultaneously received its Michelin rating (yes, this is a BIG deal - akin to winning an audition for a position with a major orchestra).
Anyway...talks with this chef have included the sharing of her desire to "tap out".
"Tapping out" is when a chef declares that he is done, and the act includes the literal tapping of a hand on the top of a greasy kitchen grill.
Well, folks....I'm tapping out.
Today, in Baltimore, a mistrial was declared in the first case involving one of the SIX policemen involved in the death of Freddie Gray. While I shall not go into great detail, it must be said that in the videos of Mr. Gray's capture it is clear that he was incapacitated BEFORE he was placed in a police van and not restrained as is policy: meanwhile, the cases here are focusing on the neglect inflicted on Mr. Gray during his time in the van (and not the grave and senseless brutality inflicted on him by the police before taken on what is known in Philadelphia as a "nickel ride"). Think about it. No one, not even the "new sherrif" named Mosby, is paying attention to the fact that Mr. Gray was gravely injured before the fateful ride (note: this is one of many videos available via YouTube).
I'm tapping out.
Since April, the atmosphere in Baltimore has been tense to say the least. There are activists on the ground in West Baltimore - a region that has been labeled "unfixable" (think about that) by many in the city - who are very clear about what led to the uprising in April and are now expressing justifiably cynical curiosity as to why policemen from other counties were seen in Druid Hill Park training in "riot control" just a few days ago. This is a city with systemic problems that FEW want to own up to and properly address, much like other cities in the United States, and the brutality that resulted in the death of Freddie Gray was simply a catalyst.
I'm tapping out.
From the moment of the uprising until now, many of my relationships have irrevocably changed and some have thankfully fallen away: as I continue to speak my truth I simultaneously erase folks who are destined to remain stuck in their status quo logic. Meanwhile, new ones have come in and for that I'm grateful. Still....
I'm tapping out.
There are so many things that I COULD say: however, I shall simply refer to the writer Taylor Caldwell (ironically, Ms. Caldwell was a confirmed conservative and a member of the John Birch Society) who, in the preface of her 1972 historical novel The Captains and the Kings, wrote a dedication to the youth of America who were protesting. In that dedication Ms. Caldwell shared her thoughts on the "plot against the people" and very clearly detailed the ingredients of said plot (if you want to see it, get the book - it's available via Amazon).
I'm tapped out. I'm tired. I'm existentially tired of the media-driven hype, of "protestor" becoming a part of the lexicon of coded language to mean a certain type of person. Heck, I took part in a demonstration back in April - does that mean that I'm a lawless thug to people? Think about it.
I'm tapping out. I'm tired. Ask yourselves how it feels - really - to live in a society where a young White man with a bowl-cut can walk into a church in my hometown, ASSASSINATE nine people and be apprehended alive (let alone be taken to damned Burger King after being apprehended alive because he was HUNGRY?!?) while scores of so-called African-Americans can be viciously murdered by the police with no thought. As a toss to the legacy institutions known as orchestras, I'm tired - the assassination of which I speak in this paragraph happened just across the street from the newly-renovated and reopened Gailliard Center, home of the Charleston Symphony.
I'm tapping out. I'm done - The fact that there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people in the United States who STILL, while viewing the gross atrocities and inequalities sit back and say that Black people would be okay if they "simply obeyed the law", is reprehensible at best.
This is just the beginning - and should you choose to click the superficial "unfriend" button, please do so. That will say more about you than it does about me and about reality.
"If you don't get it by now, you ain't NEVER going to..."