The Manifest Of Urban Frustration

The Manifest Of Urban Frustration

Things are different in the hood and things are different for black men (brothas), I’m not playing the race card or having a inner city pity party, those are truths.

What we are seeing in the Baltimore riots, in marches across the country and in pent up anger is from years of less than unalienable rights.

Yes there is more media coverage of police killings of black men. But trust me this isn’t new. Yes I know these incidents aren’t happening to completely innocent people. But no one deserves to die because of it.

Its just now we are more aware. Ever since the filming of the late Rodney King beating over 20 years ago, police brutality has a face, a video and an image.

I was texting with a former co-worker today about that is happening in Baltimore and her first response was ” folks are tired”.

These riots, marches and frustrations are more than just about one person being killed by police. This is the stress of urban living, the violence among each other, the lack of economic opportunities, being treated like second class citizens and honestly feeling like no one cares.

Now I don’t condone violence, looting and acting like a damn fool. This is the time to remember the non violence message of Dr. Martin Luther King as well as his famous words “If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation”.

I lived in the hood for many years, I know I felt frustration of what we didn’t have, heard gun shots at night and no law enforcement response, saw open drug deals in broad daylight and felt like no one cared. That was unless an election was near.

I’ve been to Cook County jail and neighborhood police stations to help get friends out and its a different world on that side of the law. I’ve seen friends and family go down the wrong path with law enforcement and its so different than what the rest of us experience. Trust me its nothing like jury duty.

I will make sure to tell my forthcoming child not to even “go there” on the other side of the law. When you have to deal with law enforcement you do everything they saw no matter how questionable and stay legal and stay calm.

How many of us have watched police shows that show actual police footage and have seen people of all races roughed up?

But like I said, its different for brothas, we are constantly “on guard”, always aware and no matter the situation it hurts me to see brothas killed whether at the hands of other brothas or law enforcement.

20 years ago last week I was a victim of a violent crime that involved a gun that was fired in my vicinity. I lived to tell about it but I still think about that night, yes I could have been more aware but I know I easily could not be here. And yes that crime was committed by a brotha.

So I know what I’m talking about, I’ve buried friends to gun violence also from other brothas. And I’ve had friends and family all in the criminal courts systems and in jails throughout the mid west.

I’m telling you its harder for “us”, it can be frustrating and easy to ‘act out” but we can’t. I had ancestors who were slaves and they endured so I can be here. I had later relatives down south who had their challenges. My parents saw riots just like this 50 years ago and had their issues to overcome too.

Is it all fair? Hell no.

But we watch the media coverage (which honestly isn’t all good), of Baltimore and we know that could be Chicago.

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum, class of 1999 and prior to that Brother Rice class of 1994. . And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say, feel free to email

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