Hundreds gather to pay their respects to slain Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota. (Kim Hairston and Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun video)
The death of rapper Lor Scoota shook the whole city, but the reaction is beyond disappointing, with some of Baltimore's most respected leaders talking about turning their backs on us.
"Honestly, I done all I can do for and in Baltimore. Word of advice … when the opportunity to leave presents itself take it. Goodbye" rapper Tate Kobang wrote on Twitter. "Tired of trying to keep it real. I'm gone son!" wrote boxing star Gervonta. Chino, our dirt bike legend, said "I definitely got plans on leaving."
And that's just from the famous; countless others are saying similar things on social media and among friends.
What's really disturbing is not the anger, the pain and sadness felt by my peers, it's the acceptance of Baltimore as being like this forever. There's no hope for Baltimore, people say, there's nothing in Baltimore, they will never stay in Baltimore. I understand the pain, I do. I'm hurt, we're all are hurt. Our city can be a cold, hard place, and the deaths are mounting. Scoota's manager Trayvon Lee was shot to death Wednesday, less than two weeks after Scoota was killed. Chino, Lee's brother posted on Instagram Thursday that "The city I did so much for... betrayed me bro they took you."
But our reaction cannot be to hate our city. Our reaction cannot be give up on the city. Our reaction cannot be to leave the city.
What our city really needs is not people who will get money and get out. What we really need is people who will sacrifice to see a better Baltimore. Does that sacrifice mean "I'm gone from here, but I'll put money back in the community"? Absolutely not. You think donating money will fix this problem? It won't. If you really love the people, love the 'hood, love someone other than yourself and your family, then you know deep down inside that won't fix the culture that killed Scoota. It won't. We need people who are loyal enough, loving enough, caring enough to stick with Baltimore and try to change this city by any means necessary.
People say "What do I owe these people? Why must I stay and help them? They ain't do nothing for me."
You're right, they may not have done anything for you, but someone did. If you are a black person, you are largely able to do what you please today because of those who lived and died for you. Some you know, like MLK or Malcolm X, but some you will never know. They died for our people, the same people you are giving up on. Harriet Tubman didn't say, "Well I'm free, ima let the rest of them Negroes figure it out." In fact Harriet said, "I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves." She wanted to free more! She did everything she could. Harriet Tubman went back for her people again and again because she realized that this was bigger than her.
Life is bigger than you and your family. We can't in 2016 give up on our city for comfort and convenience. While you may be able to leave, not everyone can. There are over 600,000 people in Baltimore; everyone can't leave. So your leaving when you could be a positive force for change in our city is condemning our next generation to death. That's a extremely selfish move. These kids need mentors, these schools need good teachers, these drug dealers need real jobs — who is going to do this work? Are you going to leave them too? Or are you going to live your life in a way to ensure that some don't have to die young, some have opportunities? Our community needs you, don't give up on us, don't leave us. Imagine if our freedom fighters left us? Where would we be?
We live in a time where things are rough. But if you are a person we look up to, we need you to be a visionary. Don't focus on drugs, death, hate, envy and jealousy. We need you to envision a Baltimore that is different; we need you to see that it can be different. Need you to still believe in Baltimore when everyone else has thrown in the towel.
Albert Einstein said the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. So, will you be part of the problem or part of the solution?