op-ed: “why we mad tho?” – a right to rage

May 1, 2015

My neighborhood was on fire. In my little Orchard Mews community, a lower income housing complex near Pennsylvania Ave and Martin Luther King Boulevard in west Baltimore, people flooded the streets in view of my front porch. We all watched as a white cop chased down an alleged “corner boy” and had his face pinned up against the wall as he screamed for him to alleviate some pressure, and then came another white cop who for some reason was compelled to bulldoze the already restrained boy and slammed his head against the concrete wall. Then came a dozen more cops, swarming, you know, to “help out” with this one kid. I was about 11 years old then and that was the first time I witnessed police brutality straight on and realized that these men and women masked in all black and a badge were not here for us.

By Abdu Ali, AFROPUNK Contributor


The energy in Baltimore has been flaring at a high velocity for the past few weeks. On April 12th, Freddie Gray, age 25, was aggressively handled by the Baltimore police resulting in a fatal spine injury. The only visual evidence from the arrest is a video of Gray being basically dragged by the police, as he screams in agony from the pain and then is thrown in the wagon. A week later, he died from his injuries. Details are still very vague as to what actually happened to him between the time he was put in the wagon and when they got to the precinct.  This is to my community is an obvious case of injustice that provoked uproar, rage, and tears within Baltimore’s black community.


On Monday, April 27 the Baltimore Police Department showed up at Mondawmin Mall, a well known black shopping center, that also serves as a huge public transit conjunction – especially for young black students. They came there because of alleged rumors of “rioting”. Not only did they swarmed up in military gear as they intimidate students, they also shut down all buses and trains at Mondawmin Mall, leaving the students stranded with no way to get home.


I saw it all unfold on TV and social media. Family and friends were blowing up my phone as we all witness the shade. They were calling kids juveniles, taking the BPD’s side sympathizing for injured policemen who were hit during the “chaos”, and only beaconing shots of minors going off on cops, who not only were frustrated by being cornered by the BPD but also again being targets of the deep oppression of blacks within America. Baltimore is full of unfairnesses for blacks and the black youth come up disadvantaged from the get go, being raised in schools with crippling teaching strategies, horrible lunches, in terrible learning conditions. I remember at one point they shut down all water fountains in every public school in Baltimore because they contained dangerous amounts of lead. Let’s not also ignore Baltimore’s infamous eye soars, the blocks and blocks of abandoned housing that could be filled with people in need or the fact that Baltimore is rooted in a racial segregation system that was instilled in the early 1900s that was designed to disadvantage black people living in this city.


From CNN to Fox mainstream media chose to display the eruption of frustrated black children against the police, perpetuating negative stereotypes of blacks, while not focusing on what could cause such unrest within the community in the first place. They did not mention all the beautiful and unified protesting that’s been taking place within Baltimore and failed to reveal how the negative incidents that happened in Baltimore were in isolated in small pockets of the city. Even still the media wants to distract us with the “chaos” that’s happening in my city and not put spotlight on all the beautiful events of unity, art, and positive energy that’s been taking place. They want to give you a show. Now we have this dumb curfew that me and my peers see as useless and unnecessary, because the chaos seems to not be, and many nightlife businesses are suffering because of this, with many arts events having to cancel.


What’s a nigga suppose to do? Time and time again you hear another nigga shot dead by the hands of a cop. From Ferguson to Baltimore black lives have been taken unjustly by policeman. Black America is fed the fuck up. Not only are our lives are being robbed by those who are suppose to protect us but the system is scatting in our faces while racist cops get off for free due to the privilege of white supremacy.  Then when we cry in outrage, protesting, and rallying, the media bends the image of us and call us things like “thugs” as if our rage doesn’t have it’s own personal milker. It disgusts me that the media and those non empathic white people want to attack our wounds as we cry from the lashing of America’s suffrage on black America. Do you not remember white America, that your forefathers came to this land destroyed the natives’ existence and then had the audacity to enslave Africans, strip them of their humanity, and make millions off of their labor that whites today still benefit from and then even when black America was allocated “freedom” you still lynched us, gave us no access to your privilege, burned down our independence, and then you suffocated us by putting us in ghettos, project housing, with no decent education, food, or good supply of hope and then  even after we try to mind our own business, you police us with petty cops and politics, fed drugs into our neighborhoods, label us as unjustified thugs, & say we don’t have a right to rage as we still grieve from slavery and the oppression that’s nooses our minds, bodies, hearts, and spirits! Fuck outta here. #WHYWEMADTHO?