fight or flight… and nowhere in between

“Oh Baltimore… Man, it’s hard just to live” – Nina Simone

Every year that I lived in Baltimore, someone I knew got killed – yes, all seven years. Wrapped in my idealism, I concluded I would somehow change the presence of violence in the space around me by attacking poverty.  At 19, I decided I would fight poverty through the study of economics (this got me nowhere, not to mention I couldn’t identify what specifically I wanted to fight about ‘poverty’ nor how this related to ‘violence’) and by becoming a lawyer (my goals keep evolving). Since two of my brothers had moved to Maryland from NYC, the prospect of staying there seemed ideal… until 2007. My last year of law school, my prophyte was murdered (thankfully her killers have since been caught, prosecuted & sentenced) and I was completely done with the entire state of Maryland.

My name is FLIGHT.

I ran back home to New York and promised to never live in Maryland.

Today as I was reading an article Steph (or @flyspacequeen on Twitter) shared with me regarding the murder of a Morgan State student (and a string of violence being suffered by persons affiliated with Johns Hopkins, another Baltimore area school), I thought of the people I left behind in Baltimore who did not flee as I did.  The wonderful Grace Lee Boggs once told me and dozens other people in the room that

The most revolutionary thing I’ve ever done… is stay in the same house.

There is revolutionary power in consistent presence.

I’ve been thinking of those who maintained their consistent Baltimore presence, who are motivated by hope and a strong desire for change.  Those who could allow themselves to slip into a state of despair, but who instead commit their life to transforming Baltimore and preserving its “charm”.  Those who might have loved ones in other states and other cities, but commit themselves to their new home.  Those who don’t discount the power of their small-not-so-small daily deeds.  There are too many to name – among my friends, line sisters, college and law school classmates,  former colleagues, and people with whom I’ve volunteered – you know who you are.  Stay encouraged.  Keep fighting because you ARE making a difference.  As the Dalai Lama XIV once said,

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

Thank you. you are a real life hero. may I draw from your greatness to create revolutionary power with my presence in New York City.