I don’t condone what’s currently happening in Baltimore (although we don’t see much coverage of the thousands of peaceful protesters, that doesn’t make for good news values); but I do understand it. I understand it because I have felt similar feelings when my anger has been held inside of me and been allowed to keep building. I first met my priest months before attending church there because I cursed him out when he walked into a situation where my ex and I were fighting. I cursed out a lady in the parking lot at my daughter’s school because she was rude and inconsiderate and double parked behind me so that I couldn’t get out and I had to race home to race for school bus.
One day as a teenager, I screamed at my mom. I screamed at her because I was so angry inside and it had built up over a matter of weeks where I felt like she wasn’t hearing what I was really saying or that she didn’t care. I felt invisible, like I wasn’t really there and that nobody cared. It was wrong for me to scream and yell at my mom, but I felt justified at the time. It’s the same with the rioting.
A group of people that has been and still are sometimes being oppressed, feel as if we can’t hear them and their concerns and the truth is, coming from a position of privilege as a white woman, I don’t completely understand it despite being part of a minority group (LGBT – bisexual) myself. The Bible says over and over again that God sides with the oppressed rather than the oppressors, and so I know that God loves and cares for those people in Baltimore rioting, and in fact in the Bible God sides with the oppressed.
I think that perhaps if we engaged in active listening and working to solve the problem of oppression, that there wouldn’t be rioting. I don’t think those people are thugs, I think they are angry and they feel like nobody is listening and they are desperate to be heard. Their actions are sinful, just like the circumstances leading up to what caused the protests and the rioting was also sinful.
However, I think that those of us with the privilege need to sit down and listen; and then we need to engage in positive dialogue where we don’t try to excuse our privilege but where we seek reconciliation, peace and resolution. Those of us with the privilege need to put aside our prejudices, and embrace each other regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender or anything else. We are all precious to God and God is the one that created us with our particular race, sexual orientation and gender.