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On Baltimore


I remember when People’s Drug Store became CVS. My mother would give me a dollar everyday to spend after school, and on our way home, my sister and I always stopped at CVS. I loved SweetTarts. When I graduated and changed schools, there was no CVS near my new school. So I got my SweetTarts from the corner store.

When I changed schools, I got a new teacher and new friends. Really, they were just new versions of my old friends and teachers. Same problems, same love, same fears, just a new building. They were my community. Not CVS. I never went to CVS to feed my mind, soul or spirit, just my sweet tooth.

And when I watched CVS looted and burned on TV, not one tear did I shed — maybe a little jealously since I couldn’t be there to make off with some of those SweetTarts, but I digress. That drug store, that business, that symbol of capitalist greed, that place where they hire the people in the community and pay them $8 an hour while they exploit the fact that the people of that community have no place closer to buy groceries so they have to pay more or go without, that brick and mortar where they pump more narcotics than the boys from The Wire, where they don’t offer cures but temporary soothing for dollars, where they take money from the people and give it to their shareholders without any reinvestment into the people who make it, that place meant not a fucking thing to me.

Unless with all the chips, toothpaste, prescriptions and cotton balls they’re selling, they start giving away fucks free, watching CVS destroyed gave me no more pain than a piece of lint falling on my head.


I remember getting my first paycheck from my Pizza Hut at 15. It was $98 (I was hot shit.). I needed to cash it on my own because independence. I went to my local ACE, where they promptly informed me I’d have to pay 6% to cash my check there. For all those math challenged folks, that’s $5.88. I was only making $5.15. That means after taking into account 7.65% FICA, I’d have to work an hour and 15 minutes just to cover the fee to get the money to cash my paycheck.

So when I watched them kick the windows out and destroy that symbol of financial exploitation, the poor black man’s “bank,” the modern day robber baron, that institution of ravenous greed where they entice those they know have nothing with the promise of money now only to have them pay 400% interest, that legal loan shark, the corporate embodiment of Sweet Daddy from Good Times, the manifestation of predatory lending, I smiled and chuckled.

Fuck America’s Cash Express. If you build your empire off those whose only currency is hope, then when your empire crumbles from the hope that transformed to defiance and destruction, I will be Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

On the senior citizen building burning:

Come on now. Y’all going for that one? They burned all kinds of shit, but left black businesses in tact. And all of a sudden, they went and set fire to a senior citizen building. I ain’t going for it. I bet if the real culprits had stood a little closer, you’d have smelled bacon.

The easiest and smartest way to discredit any movement is muddy the message. I’d bet my life (and I’m pretty fond of living and shit) that the cops set fire to that building. They don’t want that kind of self-sufficiency in our community. They can’t have us being self-reliant and doing something. Then what happens to the myths they operated under?

On the young folks not knowing what they were doing:

My favorite documentary is Spike Lee’s “Four Little Girls” about the bombing of the church in Birmingham that killed Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson. In it, there’s a segment where they speak to one of Denise’s friends who talks about being in class and the teacher telling her middle school class that she forbids them from going to the protest march. She turned her back to write on the board and by the time she turned back around, the room was empty.

The real revolution always starts with the children. That’s because their parents have been given a few spoils by white supremacy and they have to protect them. “I ain’t going out there getting arrested and getting fired from ‘good job.’ Then how can I pay this mortgage? How can I put food on the table and clothes on their backs? How can I afford my car?” Never mind the fact you can’t pay the mortgage anyway because the big boys at the banks suckered you into a loan you couldn’t afford and lined their pockets with fees while your mortgage ballooned and quadrupled. We won’t get into the fact that you really don’t have the money to keep lining Nike’s pockets while they won’t even come build a decent court for the kids who die for their shoes to play on. And you scrimping on food anyway buying that 70% lean hamburger and chemically abundant cereal that keeps your kids loaded with sodium, dye and sugar, so they go to school and can’t sit still and get misdiagnosed (purposely most often) with ADHD so the school can get more money for them and convince you to pump them with Adderall, so you take that prescription to the CVS (before it went up in flames) to have it filled and buy them some more sugar-loaded cereal and candy while you’re there with the money from the consolation prize (SSI check) they gave you for keeping your kids doped up and unproductive which you cashed at the ACE for a hefty $50 fee.

You can’t lose that good life, even if the goodness is prorated based on what the white folks have. You gotta shuck and jive and keep heading to the plantation every morning, although now you wake up to the alarm clock instead of the rooster and the overseer don’t use his whip but his write-ups. You gotta keep living in that relative comfort because unlike the rest of them niggers, you had the sense to educate yourself and get out.

And the children see this madness and all they know is it’s not right. And like the Lego set with too many pieces for them to make sense of, they knock it the fuck down. And like the Lego set, you don’t have the time, wisdom, patience or energy to sit with them and teach them how to build it properly. You won’t work with them on the plan. You won’t clear a space for them to create and experiment, but you’ll whip their asses for destroying your hard earned money.

Don’t be mad at these kids because they have the heart you don’t. They fought however they knew. And you can ask what does stealing chips and toilet paper have to do with ending police brutality, and I’ll ask you if the Koch Brothers who make that toilet paper gave a fuck about the black community of Baltimore before they went in there tearing shit up?

The kids did something. And all you’re doing is watching them and shaking your fucking head. Until you get out there and teach them to plant a garden or sew or fix a car or write or form a dance troop or just sit and listen to help them heal, you’re valueless to them and the entire black community.

And that black man, Valentine, who CNN and Fox made famous, who stood his ignorant ass up there talking about how he wasn’t black, white or red, he was just an American, who bragged about his tours of duty where he was either a part of or silently acquiesced to the destruction of property in black and brown neighborhoods abroad, who said the kids should be home studying, who said the kids do not respect the law, is white supremacy personified. You’ll stand your black ass out there to protect them white folks dollars, here and abroad, but where are you when the cops leave our dead sons and daughters lying in their own blood on those same streets?

On destroying your own community:

Community defined: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage

How the fuck did they destroy the community? You can’t destroy common heritage and culture. They are the community. Not a fucking store. Some of y’all need stop repeating what the fuck you heard.

On MLK and how he’d feel:

I know y’all watched Eyes on the Prize in elementary school. Remember how King and the others marched peacefully and the police and the white mobs just watched? Neither the fuck do I. They fucked them up. Let dogs loose, sprayed fire hoses and beat the shit out them with nightsticks. And when they assembled peacefully in private homes and churches, they blew those places to pieces.

So don’t distort King’s legacy to shame us. White people are violent whether you’re King or Crips. They come ready to kill and silence us. So whether you lock and arms and sing “We Shall Overcome” or lock up them fists they shall come over and to fight. You can either ball up and take the blows or return them for a full refund.

On the media portrayal:

Fuck Anderson Cooper. Fuck Don Lemon. Now that I got that off my chest, fuck the media in general. I actually would prefer them to show that rage. I don’t mind the savagery being displayed. That’s the only way to send a message. Black folks been marching and protesting so long that we should be the most physically fit group in this country. All that damn cardio holding signs up over our heads and all we got to show for it is some hashtags.

Run them reels back, white America. Y’all really don’t want this problem.

On white folks and rioting:

I remember learning about the Boston Tea Party. I remember how they boiled a big ass pot of tea and had the British over to negotiate taxation. It was so peaceful and non-destructive.

See, I can do it too. Let’s just make shit up and pretend that history is all decorum and shit. Then again, let’s not. Them motherfuckers got it popping. They set them ships on fire and turned the water into a big ass pool of Earl Grey. And the British called them agitators, criminals and terrorists. And then the British wanted to negotiate and shit because they realized the sleeping beast had finally awakened.

And since y’all all for equality now, let us be equal in the use of violence to obtain equity. But I don’t want y’all out there rioting over who wins a game. Save that for the savage white people whose lives are so filled with privilege that the only thing that makes them mad enough to loot and burn shit is their team’s performance in a sporting event.

On Freddie Gray:

Yeah, so about the person who became the catalyst for this, when will we have any information on how his spine was severed? Or what he was charged with? Or why the pigs are home on vacation?

See CNN had no time for 24-hour coverage of his death, but that smoke in the city, though.

And his family called for peace. Not to be callous, but this is bigger than Freddie. And Aiyanna. And Mike. And Rekia. And Walter. And Darnisha. And John. This is where destroying the community comes in. This fight does not belong solely to the family of Freddie. It’s all of ours. And we’re fighting for the living. So we won’t calm to show respect because to stay calm would do just the opposite. It would mean we’re content to sit and wait for the next one and heed the next calls for calm. NO MORE!

On it all:

Remember the Emperor’s New Clothes? Remember how the only person with the sense to say, “Wait a minute, this motherfucker naked,” was a child? Different toilet, same shit. The only ones with the heart to confront the truth were the children.

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