Has anything changed? Why is this happening? What comes next? These are the tough questions Banter staff tackled this week while Baltimore burned in response to death of 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray, who died of a severed spine inflicted in police custody on April 19.
Here's the week that was, at The Daily Banter.
Baltimore is the America We Asked For
Banter editor Ben Cohen takes on a harsh truth about the troubles in Baltimore this week: that the system that led to Freddie Gray's death and the systematic deprivation of the rights of Baltimore's black citizens is exactly what its designers intended:
Rather than create a viable city to live in, Baltimore and thousands of cities across America spend their resources on policing communities and locking them up. Once you understand the environment many residents of Baltimore have grown up in, the only thing remarkable about the events unfolding this week is that so many have chosen not to engage in rioting and looting – a testament to the enduring spirit of the residents who have grown up with unimaginable violence and hostility.
The Profound Unfairness of the Baltimore Riots
Bob Cesca dwells on the terrible inequity of what's happening in Baltimore, where commentators relentlessly focus on the worst excesses of justifiable rebellion, poverty is not being addressed and black men like Freddie Gray are treated as guilty until proven innocent. One of my favorite reads this week, bringing both a crushing sense of powerlessness and bitter insight into the America we have today.
Who Wins the Fight of the Century: Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather?
As a former sports journalist and accomplished boxer, Ben is uniquely qualified to offer insights into the upcoming Battle For Greatness on May 2nd:
So how will the fight play out? Can the master boxer keep his undefeated record and tame the marauding Pacquaio? Or can the 8 weight champion force the defensive fighter out of his shell and land enough punches to win enough rounds to take the fight?
Who will win? Read the rest of Ben's prediction here.
MEMBERS ONLY: Elizabeth Warren Was Right Before, and She’s Going To Be Right Again
Last week, I included one of Tommy Christopher's pieces arguing that Elizabeth Warren was misleading the public over the Trans-Pacific Pipeline and President Obama's quest to seek fast-track authority to negotiate it. This week, read Mike Luciano's well-reasoned defense of Warren as someone who has been consistently right about Wall Street, financial industry corruption and economic inequality.
MEMBERS ONLY: Remembering the 1980 Miami Riots, 35 Years Later
With protests, riots and incredibly aggressive police deployments rocking cities the country over in response to the death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray, Miami native Chez Pazienza tackles the history of anti-police demonstrations in the Sunshine State's most famous metro:
This May will mark 35 years since the Miami riots of 1980. It would be good to be able to say that in the intervening years and decades the systemic issues and law enforcement culture that led to that explosion of violence had evaporated. It would be good to say that, but no one can. All you have to do is look to Baltimore to see how little things have changed. There were urban racial uprisings before Miami and there have been plenty since, in Crown Heights, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Ferguson and of course Baltimore, just to name a few, all examples of people driven to destruction because they believed they had no other recourse.
No, White People The “Mom in Yellow” Isn’t a Hero
When a video of a black mom physically fighting with her son in Baltimore over the latter's attempt to join demonstrations over Freddie Gray's death went viral, I felt sick to my stomach. Here was a heart-wrenching situation being played for laughs and affirmations of deeply-held stereotypes by a bunch of Internet conservatives. Here was millions of people applauding the notion that what young black men really need is to have some sense smacked into them.
So it was a relief to read this piece from child abuse investigator Patrick Perion, who writes that praise of the mom in question "is naive at best and dangerously reckless at worst" and endorses the "underlying racism that blames black mothers for their sons being hassled by police":
"It’s incredibly easy to offer simplistic solutions like 'I wish more parents were like the Mom in Yellow,'" Perion writes. " The complex issues that affect the African American community aren’t so easily answered."
There Is No Race War in Baltimore, But Right-Wingers Seem to Want One
What's happening in Baltimore is the outcome of decades of segregation, economic deprivation and poverty, but some conservatives seem really determined to make it a story about the innate aggressiveness of black people. I tackle the brewing "race war" narrative simmering in the fever dreams of the far right, where everyone from Matt Drudge to Bill Kristol has suggested that "the entire black population of the United States’ inner cities are waiting to flood out and destroy white America."