**ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ON APRIL 26, 2014**
This week, my neighborhood made national news as dozens of peaceful protestors filled the streets of downtown Baltimore in response to the Freddie Gray incident. And, really, the only reason any of this made national headlines is because of all the other incidents across the country that have rocked the nation in recent months concerning police brutality in the black community. But this is not the first time this has happened. One hundred reports of police brutality have been filed in the last four years in the Baltimore City, and who knows how many are unaccounted for. And yet, that is not the major issue. No one marches when we mindlessly kill our own in our own backyards. No one will stand up to the gangs and drug dealers who threaten the safety of our children and our community on a daily basis. No marches or protests have shut down the city because we as a community are tired of the war against ourselves.
People get upset when we say “Black Lives Matter.” The statement does not negate the fact that all lives matter, but it is a statement that must be made in the face of a society that doesn’t act like it believes that black lives matter. No one has to walk around reminding people that white lives matter – it is embodied in everything that is done, and, at times, to the detriment of other people groups that populate the country. The statement “Black Lives Matter” is an indictment on the institutionalized racism that runs covertly in the systems through which the country functions – businesses, education, employment, etc. No one wants to talk about white privilege because it makes people uncomfortable. But that doesn’t make it any less real, or any less damaging to those who are not afforded the same opportunities simply because they have less melanin in their skin. So, I echo the words “Black Lives Matter”, not just to law enforcement, but also to my brothers and sisters around the country. We have to learn to stand up to ourselves, for ourselves. Those who have been afforded the opportunity of an educated mind must remember clearly the humble beginnings from whence you came, and do what you can to go back and elevate your community. Each One Reach One is not a silly cliché or platitude that sounds good. It is the responsibility that we each have been charged with to fight to make our communities better, to provide better choices and opportunities for the next generation. It is our duty to make sure that our children and their contemporaries are able to step on the stones of the foundation that we have laid out for them in order to achieve success in life and become productive, contributing members of society, IN SPITE OF what society may say or assume about them. We must push and work to produce more than drug dealers, gang bangers, and pregnant teenagers who do not know their worth. We must do all we can to remedy the disintegration of the family and the chronic nature of fatherlessness in our community. We have to stop standing in silence as our brothers, sons, uncles, friends, and fathers are lost to the streets and the “hood mentality.” Yes, I will proclaim that all lives matter, because all lives are precious and sacred, even in a world that endorses otherwise. But I will even more proclaim that black lives matter, because they are the ones that are being discarded and disregarded, both by our community and the society in which we live. I am frustrated and saddened by what I continue to see happening in our communities, and I will do what I can to be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem.