Take Flight

I know I’ve been quiet lately, but it’s only because there has been a ton of work to do. I’ve been going to committee meetings for police accountability in Annapolis, Baltimore, Fairfax County; I’ve been reading and researching and planning out what the next step is. One really awesome thing I’ve done during my writing absence was go with my friends to film their music video in Baltimore. My friend Cory has been protesting with me (and even came and stood by thecamera during my CNN interview to support me!), and he was inspired to create this video. My shirt is from Bmore Love, and all proceeds from their shirts go to Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore. Video by Dexter Jason Delfin Visuals.

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I am the Activist who took the “Heartwarming” Picture of the Soldier and Little Girl in Baltimore

I’m the girl that took the picture of the soldier and child in Baltimore that went viral. I meant to capture a sad moment, one of wasted resources and failure. Who knew that so many people think all of our race and economic problems could be solved if someone would just think to smile at a child?

The accusations of being a pot stirrer, a know-nothing liberal, and race-baiter have been coming at me almost faster than I can read them. Good. Keep it coming. You wouldn’t hate me if I didn’t make you uncomfortable. Keep telling me to forget the misery and to just see the happiness; keep criticizing me for bringing it up. Keep talking about it, because that is the first step. But let’s keep it real when we talk about it.

How can you look at a picture from Baltimore that could easily be from Afghanistan and think it shows a promising future? The problems leading up to this picture continue to be swept under the rug while people mindlessly smile over a picture of a child. How about we focus on the fact that 86% of public school students in Baltimore get free/reduced lunch? How about we focus on the predatory payday loan and checks cashed establishments that people in this neighborhood are subjected to, continuing the cycle of poverty they are in? How about we focus on the fact that I took this picture on Fulton Ave about a month ago, and it’s pretty average for much of Baltimore:

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I don’t find my picture to be tragic because I hate the military or because I hate guns. It seems to me that 30 seconds of critical thinking would clarify that. I find it to be tragic because we don’t give a damn about these communities until the destruction threatens the rest of us. If this was a picture of a child on a field trip to the Pentagon, I’d see how it’s cute. Adorable, even. But that isn’t what this is. This is a community being told they are too vile and worthless for anyone to give a damn about them until they start to burn things down — and even then, people only care long enough to be keyboard activists with uninformed opinions.

Baltimore has a lot of problems, but being a city full of people that want to loot and riot isn’t one of them. I think it’s pretty clear why there was a riot — what did the police expect when they loaded up with riot gear, turned off public transit, didn’t allow children to leave, and instigated pissed off kids whose frontal lobes aren’t fully developed? Yet here we are, painting Baltimore as a city of lawlessness. If we’re going to talk about lawlessness in Baltimore, let’s talk about the millions of dollars used to settle and hide cases of police brutality.

I have watched news anchors and the internet in general wonder why people felt the need to burn the businesses in the community, consequently limiting their own options of where to shop. Over my week in Baltimore, I listened to and talked to a lot of people, from those who were pro-riot to those who were pro-peace. The impression that I got wasn’t that all people necessarily hate all businesses that aren’t black owned — it’s that they hate that the businesses won’t pay living wages or promote people of color. Without the ability to build capital (or even pay rent) and without the experience of being more than entry level employees, how are people supposed to start their own businesses? How will there ever be more black-owned businesses in primarily black communities?

In my opinion, the onus is now on wealthy business owners of all races in Baltimore and the surrounding area to do their part in making the city a more livable place. It’s on the middle and upper middle class residents of Maryland to change the way things are run. I saw an incredible amount of unity build up in one week of Baltimore protests; a level of unity that is rare for any kind of movement. The revolution is here, and “us vs. them” is not going to be black vs white. It’s going to the people who have hopped on board vs. those who haven’t. Do not stand on the wrong side. Support the organizations that are on the ground making a difference. Support the organizations working to feed the hungry children of Baltimore and working to make the streets safe. Do not shop at places that do not allow their entry level employees to grow. Nothing will change over night, but it’s time we start working to provide education and opportunities instead of casting judgement when most of us can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in West Baltimore.

Follow my Facebook and Twitter. You can subscribe to my blog here.  A version of this post also appeared on my Huffington Post blog.

Videos From Baltimore

On April 30th, Joseph Kent talked to the crowd about his first arrest — the one that was live on TV.

Remember Kwame Rose, the protestor that got into an argument with Geraldo on the 28th? On Thursday he had round 2 with Geraldo’s security. I watched Geraldo see him, instigate a fight, and then vanish.

After Mosby announced the officers responsible for the death of Freddie Gray would be charged, the area around the Penn North Station was a celebration for the rest of the day. This ranges from 2:30 to 9:45…and the chanting at the end quickly became “we young, we strong, we marching all night long.”

This is Baltimore

Today at Penn North is a lot different than Tuesday.

** Since I originally posted this, I was (very briefly) interviewed on CNN to discuss how I feel about the first picture  and I have composed my thoughts in a blog entry— basically, not happy. Obviously I’d love if you read my thoughts, but let me sum up the problem by saying I’m a white girl from DC who is invited to go on national news programs to discuss life in West Balto. **

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Follow my Facebook and Twitter. You can subscribe to my blog here

The Week in Review – August 15

This was a pretty busy week for the news, but most of it has been depressing.

  • Ferguson, MO went from being treated like a war zone to being under the control of Ron Johnson, who told the Post, “When I see a young lady cry because of fear of this uniform, that’s a problem…We’ve got to solve that.”
  • The police officer who killed Michael Brown has been identified as Darren Wilson.
  • Robin Williams passed away, and people saw that as good reason to send pictures of his body (photoshopped or real) to his daughter on Twitter. Because people can be evil.
  • The most expensive car in the world, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, was just sold for $38 million. That would buy me a lot of Audi R8s, but apparently the sale price was “disappointingly” low. Whatever.
  • Finally, this TSA video made me laugh so you should watch it, too.

 

“Are we a town of bigotry?” Yes.

“Are we a town of bigotry?” Yes.

Applying to law school? Sending out your resume to midlevel jobs? Better purge your Facebook of all pictures of you out with your friends!

Looking to work for the city of Addison? Tom Hunse can tell you all about how you ought to beef up your LinkedIn with racist statements!

Better to be Christian and Have Dementia than to be Muslim and Qualified

Someone asked me the other day what’s wrong with Dallas — if it’s so cheap to live there, there must be some kind of catch. I didn’t know the answer then, but I sure do now. I should just forward him this article.

So the mayor of Addison (a Dallas suburb where yours truly lives) appoints this nut job, Tom Hunse, to the city’s planning and zoning committee. This is AFTER Hunse quit his job on a different school board because a Muslim was chosen to head the school (and published that info on his LinkedIn!!). Um, what?

Not only that, but Jo Lynn Haussmann, a member of the Keller school board, recently posted to Facebook: “SOUTHLAKE — Do you realize because SO FEW voters took the time and responsibility to VOTE in the municipal elections — YOU NOW HAVE A ‘MUSLIM’ on the City Council!!! What a SHAME!!!!!”

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If that isn’t enough to make you weep for humanity, the comments on the article certainly are. People don’t seem to support the removal of these public officials from their positions — and instead support them and their right to free speech/speak the truth. Sure, you can say whatever you want, but you should expect your bigoted statements to have consequences.

The school board held a meeting, but they couldn’t force her to resign. Here’s the contact information for the Keller ISD in case anyone feels like expressing their opinion. Let’s not forget that she has dementia…maybe she just isn’t qualified.

 

In DC, civilians rarely asked me why I studied Arabic (the general military response is a whole different issue); probably because everyone wants to work for the government and the area has the third highest percentage of Arab Americans in the country. In Texas, people act like they can’t fathom why I would do such a thing. It’s a shame Arabic isn’t offered in more Dallas area schools, since learning a new language forces you to learn about a new culture and helps combat being an ignorant prick. Because let’s be real…most people making these remarks can’t tell you where anything but Egypt is on the map and don’t know Arabic from Kurdish from Dari from Urdu, but they certainly can tell you all about why they hate those damn terrorists.

 

Oh, by the way — I’d love to share more news information on Tom Hunse, but that single article is the only one that comes up if you Google news.