Our Baltimore

About 18 months ago, I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon.

As I ran through the streets of the city of my birth, I noticed something — the sidewalks of nearly every street, in nearly every neighborhood, were overflowing with people cheering us on.

There were white people, brown people, black people — people of all the races and ethnicities that make up the beautiful, diverse, charming city of Baltimore.

They were out there together, supporting all us crazy fools out there running, together. These people — the obviously homeless man who raised his brown-bagged bottle to us, the couple in front of a gentrified townhome who handed runners cups of Natty Boh, the thousands of people whose voices we heard but whose faces we didn’t see — they got us through that race, as much so as all the months of training that preceded.

I’m seeing the streets of Baltimore again today. The whole world is seeing those streets today. And what we are seeing is not a city united. We are seeing a city that is broken and bleeding. We see a city out of control, hemorrhaging with hate, lost to violence in protest of violence.

I don’t know how to reconcile those images. It seems impossible. But then again, unity and brokenness are equal parts of Baltimore’s soul.

I can say this, though — rampant, pointless violence for the sake of violence has no place in the heart of this city.

And those images on TV today do not define the people of Baltimore. They don’t define who they are today and they don’t define who they will be tomorrow. The people of Baltimore are so much better than this.