You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about the issues going on currently in Baltimore. It’s yet another incident that has captivated the minds of many Americans, and has spurred opinions from anyone and everyone. Being an African-American male I should feel inclined to speak on the matter, right? So here is my opinion about the situation in Baltimore: my opinion is that I do not have the right to have an opinion on what’s happening down there.
I didn’t grow up in Baltimore, and I have never been there. I do not have any family or friends living in the city of Baltimore (although I do have some in the greater DMV area). My condolences go out to the family of Freddie Gray and to all of the other families that have lost a loved one due to similar situations. The subject at hand is deep and has many sides to it, and this post isn’t aimed at diving directly into all of the aspects involved in instances like this. The point of my writing this is to point out the fact the impossible complexity and scope of the issue facing not only the city of Baltimore, but America as a whole.
Many of my previous articles have talked about the insidious influence that the media has over us. The events in Baltimore are a perfect example of this. There’s two sides to every story — in this case there are people looting, and there are people peacefully protesting. There are corrupt members of the police force (both fiscally and morally), and there are those who have dedicated their lives to following the letter of the law. There are members of multiple races living in the city, each of whom have to deal with complex and intricate problems that are tied into the communities they inhabit. I am not going to pretend like I know something about a city that I have never been in, and I most certainly am not going to pretend to be an expert on a situation that I have taken only a small portion of time to investigate.
Many news organizations inherently seek out the sensationalized material they can present in order to get people to view it, which in turn grows the company and drives profit. Arguably then, the primary (and perhaps sole) purpose of a media outlet is to make money. Under this particular model, one could argue that the majority of media outlets have absolutely zero interest in being truly objective, and if you base your opinions of limited amounts of information, then neither do you.
If one were to do research the economic history of the city, the influence it has into communities of minorities, and its relation to police involvement/brutality, and then went on to the streets of Baltimore to do hundreds of interviews from the people who actually lived there, then perhaps they would have a right to speak on the subject. But to those out there who watched a two minute clip from Buzzfeed and have taken to Facebook to give their “expert” opinion, I suggest rethinking what you are saying. This post is filled with opinions of my own so take them as you may, but I don’t believe becoming a social media activist is doing anything to help anyone.
Oftentimes, the media isn’t an accurate representation of anything whatsoever. Quit letting a news outlet be the puppeteer of your mind. There are tons of horrific things going on in the world, yet you don’t care about them because the news hasn’t told you to yet. Stop it. If you really care about the issues, then get out there and do something about it. I am deeply saddened by the events in Baltimore but I am not going to pretend like it has a direct impact in my immediate life and that it won’t fade from the forefront of my mind in a couple weeks, months, or years from now. There are definitely people out there who have taken the time to diligently research these types of issues, and I believe they are entitled to speak on them. While many of the things I see do impact me on an emotional level, it requires a great deal of time, effort, and critical thinking to truly have an informed opinion on major political and social issues. I can definitely see the irony in me writing my opinion about opinions, but I have done some research into how the media manipulates the cognitive functioning of our brains, so I feel that I have sufficient knowledge to give my opinion on it. Yet and still it is just an opinion, and everybody has one. They’re the cheapest commodity in the world. Be careful who you listen to.