Dr. Natasha C. Pratt-Harris
As a people many of us have become indoctrinated as spirit-led individuals, readers of the Bible and the Quran, persons who praise the Most High, followers of an earthly leader who echoes the word. We gather in our places of worship, our churches, our mosques, etc. professing to fear The Almighty, alone. We are guided by an understanding that in spite of the physical, emotional, and mental bludgeoning of our people, our spirit has never been scathed, we can conquer all and do all because of this amazing, divine strength. Baltimore, my love, my hometown, my place of three physical births, my people, FEAR NOT!
Fear not the evils of a world that attributes lawlessness to skin hue, yes something as simple as skin hue, alone. Fear not a system that has always boxed us into a corner, akin to a championship fight, fooled us into submitting to and believing in systems like capitalism, a criminal justice system, a media system, a legal system, a school system, a health care system, a transportation system, a religious system, an environmental system, an economic system, a political system, etc. when at its foundation, did not consider the masses, was always established to keep the least among us subjugated and the high order folks satisfied.
Fear not, city, county, state, federal law enforcement personnel, many of whom dwell in our own homes, attend our churches, live in our communities, all of whom are part of the same system we are all part of, and the majority of whom will either have a clear conscious because they have or continue to do their work with true honor and respect and would not harm the hair of another human because of fear, or the very few that will eventually be brought to earthly or divine justice for turning their back on their own humanity because, again, they had been brainwashed by a system that they too thought they should believe in. The same systems that many believe in, can’t escape, but must challenge.
The conversation we are not having, during Baltimore’s Uprising, is the real notion that, despite, our spirit led belief many are living, walking, and breathing in fear, one that should be denounced by the word. If we truly lived by the word, we would not fear man –we would never fear a police officer, even the criminal element that exists within some officers. If we truly lived by the word whole police departments that socialize officers to be fearful of individuals in inner-city America, would not exist. Officers would side with humanity, every time, they see that another is doing something wrong, inhumane, unconscionable, because they wouldn’t be controlled by a system, unwritten rules, a blue code that would have them side with the true enemy – and the enemy is not the people.
Mr. and Mrs. Officer fear not the men and women who bleed the same blood as you, have the same pain as you, want the same things as you, has made the same mistakes as you. Fear not an awakening of the mind to acknowledge that our systems try to control us in such a way to have you do the job in the way they want the job to be done because of systematic fears. Fear not the media that has effectively brainwashed many into believing that people of color are to be handled a certain way because they are painted to be troublemakers, nonconformists, or just plain criminals.
Imagine if Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Commissioner Charles Ramsey, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, were consumed by the very fear that would allow a man to pull the trigger on an unarmed man or woman, use a taser on an unarmed man or woman, strangle an unarmed man or woman, beat an unarmed man or woman, take the life of an unarmed man or woman because of pure and simple fear. This fear has been taught in every system. This fear has not allowed for rational decision-making, but poor decision-making. That fear allowed for rumors that circulated virtually in Baltimore, to have an entire system respond, with extreme force, when there is little to no evidence that the feared were actually carrying out a violent, unlawful, act before the appearance of police officers in riot gear.
When we fear others, we are ultimately acknowledging that we fear ourselves. We fear the self that would make rational, and not rash, decisions regarding handling moments of discontent. We fear the power of the human touch, mans capacity to talk through problems, the fear that we would look weak if we don’t go against the grain and try new approaches to handling life. We fear failure if we become disobedient to the powers that be, by instead revolting, ourselves, when we know what we are doing, what we are told to do, is not right, in the grand scheme of things.
Do not fear challenging the inequities in every system that we are controlled by. Those inequities affect each and every one of us, can impact the lives of our children, and children’s children, again and again, generation after generation, if we don’t challenge them head on, every time. Do not fear the casual debate that may weaken associations or friendships. Fear not those who speak venom about anyone who steps up to make a difference, while their stepping up appears opportunistic like. Those critiques do nothing to save lives.
Baltimore don’t fear each other, men and women who are under correctional control, men and women who live in your communities, men and women who live in the worse of conditions, children who you don’t understand, or even a system that is so intricate and so immersed in corruption, the very corruption that exists in every system, that it seems that every single entity within the system is so too corrupt. Thinking that way is what fear has us do – fearing the least among us, the law abiding, the proud, who get little to no air-play.
Baltimore no matter what your faith or if you have no faith at all, embrace those things that will allow you to have a stronger comeback, after hours of setback. “Know that the friends of Allah have no fear, nor are they sad.” Rest in Divine Peace Freddie Gray and every one we’ve lost do to fear.
Dr. Natasha C. Pratt-Harris is associate professor and Criminal Justice Program Coordinator in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of Morgan State University.