I can think of nothing and everything to say about this week’s events in Baltimore. I’m overwhelmed. There has been a flood of words on the subject in the last several days, so anything that I might say would only add to the deluge and no doubt come up far short of the better pieces. I mainly want to understand, and I am certain that the place to begin is not on the streets of Baltimore. We must begin many steps prior, maybe even a few hundred years back. But we can at least explore the framing of the narrative in our lifetime. Here’s a good place to start:

Broke Cities and Broken Bodies—It’s Time to Make the Connections – “Unless we frame the narrative as one that begins with Wall Street stealing money from our cities and ends with the ruinous destruction and brutality we see around us, we risk becoming little more than sensationalizers of greedy bastards on one side, and pornographers of despair on the other.”

In addition to understanding the systemic issues, I can better respect others’ feelings. This letter encourages as much:

Dear white Facebook friends: I need you to respect what Black America is feeling right now – “I don’t need you to validate anyone’s actions, but I need you to validate what black America is feeling. If you cannot understand how experiences like mine or my students’ would lead to hopelessness, pain, anger, and internalized oppression, you are still not listening. So listen. Listen with your heart.”

And by all means, I can avoid, criticize, and/or lambast popular media’s coverage of Baltimore, its irresponsibility in framing the narrative, and its inability to understand and listen. The way the media has covered or failed to cover this important issue in our society has put the final nail in the coffin for me with regard to its respectability. Leave it to Jon Stewart to make the point. And this encounter between a young Baltimoreon and Geraldo Rivera is pure gold, encapsulating the pain and anger of one community and the smugness and lust for sensationalism of another.