Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Baltimore Is Just the Beginning - CVIEW NEWS

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Baltimore Is Just the Beginning




TIME columnist Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player. He is also a celebrated author, filmmaker and education ambassador.

"The Baltimore uprising isn’t just about Freddie Gray"

The curfew has been lifted in Baltimore, and now all of God’s children are once again tucked back in the snug routine of their daily lives. The black temper tantrum is over, America. We can all go back to watching Castle boyishly charm his way through murder mysteries. Order is restored.



What happened in Baltimore isn’t just a one-and-done situation. This wasn’t just a slight sprain in the ankle that we’ll be able to walk off by morning. This was a violently shattered bone that will have America limping forward on crutches for months to come, maybe even years.
One thing that history has taught us is that civil unrest is rarely just about what incites the incident. From what information the public has been given, Freddie Gray’s death seems like a malignant cocktail of negligence and abuse, and the charges brought against the six officers seem to confirm that. But we’ve seen this all before—many times.


 
So why now? Why Baltimore? Why Freddie Gray?
The Baltimore uprising isn’t just about Freddie Gray. The image of the cops carrying him, his legs dangling uselessly, his neck crooked awkwardly is a visual manifestation of the impotence many African Americans have felt over the past year as death after death of black people at the hands of police keep adding up. After each death there is the usual flurry of outrage, protests, political promises, celebrity tweeting, and condemnation of protestors. Then nothing happens until the next death, which is often tragically close behind. About 70 unarmed blacks have been killed by police between 1999 and 2014. The only thing that seems to change is that the list of the dead keeps getting longer.

 

 Baltimore is the most recent in a long, frustrating line of protests that seem to vent anger, produce few substantial results, and reveal a larger pattern of systemic injustice. For African Americans, it feels as if we are all gathered together in the path of giant steamroller. We shout up at the driver to put on the brakes, but he keeps shouting for us to get out of the way. But there’s no place to go. We keep backing up and backing up. In Baltimore, it felt as though everyone’s back was against the wall, and there was no place to back up to anymore. If shouting doesn’t get the driver’s attention, maybe something more drastic will.

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