Baltimore, Maryland. Where there are riots, looting, and violence in the face of long-term, institutionalized police brutality and racism.
Where the National Guard has been called in and a curfew imposed from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. for a week.
And where our dearest, darlingest oldest daughter lives while she completes her doctoral degree.
Oldest lives in the northeast area of the city, near Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, where she spends most of her time. The riots are happening more to the west and south, including near Camden Yards – where I spent an afternoon with my three darlings about a year ago.
It’s bad enough to think of such aggression happening in places I’ve visited. It’s much worse thinking of our daughter being anywhere near it. She and a friend cancelled a planned long-distance run yesterday, because their route takes them through an area where riots are currently taking place. A friend took shelter with our daughter and her roommates last night because it was too dangerous to go home. Later in the night they received an alert that protests had erupted near campus, and that four protestors had been spotted on the campus itself.
But my worry, my fear for my precious child makes me consider the fear that so many parents live with every day. The fear that their child, because of his skin color and where he lives, will draw the attention of police. That their child will be a victim of yet another instance of police overreaction and brutality. Because I know this to be true: it doesn’t matter what our children might do; we love them and worry for them.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on race relations, or on the ins and outs of the police culture. But I do recognize that racism is alive and “well” and running rampant. I know several police officers from our area, and they’re all fine people. But I also know that power, tradition, and culture can lead to horrible, unspeakable attitudes and acts. There’s no excuse for looting and rioting and violence. But how can one not understand the justified anger that has brought us to this place?
So today I stand with the parents of Baltimore in their concern for their children. Because, in a sense, I am a parent of Baltimore. And I know the parents who live within those city limits love their children every bit as I love my daughter.
Dona nobis pacem.