Friday, May 1, 2015


My son and his family live in Baltimore.

Cathy Chen, my daughter-in-law is even a prosecutor for the city of Baltimore.

So the events there in the last week have riveted me to the developing news.

And, for the first time in the seemingly endless confrontations between the police and young black men, response was rapid, decisive and, I believe, just.

The response in North Charleston, South Carolina, was encouraging. This Baltimore action is full of hope for a long delayed need to redefine 'policing' in the United States.

I'm not sure the severity of the charges will all survive the Byzantine configurations of the justice system, but the decision to charge all 6 officers sets the bar high in any future confrontations.

(I told Bern this afternoon, when we were talking about the Baltimore situation, that I once wrote a story for a college creative writing class where a West Virginia State Policeman assaulted a man in a bar for no reasonable reason. My professor didn't buy it. Truth was, it was the only thing in the short story that was 'real'. I witnessed that assault myself!

So, I never look a policeman in the eye--the way Freddie Gray did. I lower my eyes whenever I talk to the police, which I seldom do.)

If a middle-class, aging white man who is an Episcopal priest has some reservations about the police, God help a 20 something Black man in Baltimore--which feels, in the numerous times I've been there--a lot further south than Maryland.

(By the way, I read a study on line about racism and discovered that the most racist area of the country is not the deep South, but the states of my upbringing--Appalachia. Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, eastern Pennsylvania, South western Virginia, Western North Carolina. At first I was shocked, having grown up there. But then, it began to make sense. western Maryland is part of Appalachia, as is part of western New York. I did go to segregated schools in a county with a 50/50 black/white population--a dozen years after Brown vs. the Board of Education.....)

I heard a speech on radio by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recently when he asked "How long? Not long..." Over and over he said that. And 50 years later we deal with Ferguson and Baltimore.

How long?  Who can say, alas?

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.