The story of Baltimore is connected to a long-standing struggle for access and equality, which is as old as this nation’s history. This is a story of resistance to injustice, brutality, economic exploitation and domination. One cannot truly grasp the meaning of Baltimore without considering it within the context of a long history of uprisings and protests folded into what is just the latest expression of outrage. We cannot really understand the response of this latest uprising without looking at the meta-narrative of oppression. As long as there are people who are routinely excluded and marginalized there will be disquiet.
I remember Daddy saying that I have to stay off the block. It’s 1964 and I am 17 years old. He’s afraid I’ll get hurt on 125th Street in Harlem. There have been six days of unrest after an African American teenager is shot and killed by an NYPD lieutenant.
Folks are, as Fannie Lou Hammer said long ago, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
World Trust Director of Curriculum, Education Manager and Workshop Facilitator Dia Penning weighs in on how the recent exposure of the racist Sigma Alpha Epsilon members is not a one-off example of a few racist students singing a racist song but an example of how systemic inequity is reinforced and passed on from generation to generation of those with influence and power positions in the United States.
When the whole country saw a bus full of Sigma Alpha Epsilon(SAE) brothers singing, “there will never be a n***er in SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me,” media outlets claimed it was an isolated incident and parents insisted their nice boys made a mistake. But, I started thinking about power, about wealth, and about who runs this country.
We recently spoke with Ginny to learn more about the grass roots organization, Neighbors for Racial Justice, that has sprung out of her own personal diversity initiative.
It Began with a Simple Observation
"After we moved to this neighborhood three and a half years ago," Ginny says, "my partner noticed a disturbing pattern of posts on the listserv (an email group for residents). These were clear instances of racial profiling, things like 'There is a black man walking through the neighborhood, and we've never seen him before. Just keep an eye out.' Messages to that effect."
"Shakti is so gifted at inviting people to conversation," Perdomo says. "She allows them to be courageous, to ask authentic questions and be more self-reflective."
Unlike some campuses, which may try to push racism to the back burner, hoping against hope that things will go smoothly, Vice Chancellor Enku Gelaye of UMASS Amherst is more pragmatic: "This is our world --- racist incidents will happen. If we're not building relationships consistently, when something happens you have a mish-mash approach that is not authentic."