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Broken Windows vs. Broken Backs

Gray, FreddieYesterday, like most preachers I am sure, I referenced the rebellion in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray. In my sermon, I talked about how the white-owned mainstream media has seemed more interested in broken windows than in broken backs.

In his poem “Harlem,” Langston Hughes wrote:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
O
r does it explode?

White media has called the tragic and misguided violence that has struck Baltimore “riots,” and has called those who perpetrated the destruction “thugs.” I wonder what they might have said, though, if it had been white farmers who had come to the end of their endurance with a system that left them without hope for any healthy, happy future. What if those farmers had taken up their pitchforks and marched into town and demanded an end to police sanctioned abuse, even killings? What if mothers had picked up rocks and broken windows because they were sick to death of their sons being arrested, beaten, and killed because they had no hope of any future?

As a white man, I want to be very careful that I try to understand what happens to people when all hope is taken away. Riots are not the answer, but what is? Apparently, it must not simply be letting the system continue, because that is breaking the backs of those who live without hope in our inner cities.

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