Freddie Gray, Baltimore & Beyond: What To Read/Watch/Listen To Since TV News Is A Steaming Pile Of Hot Garbage

The mainstream media, and cable news especially, has long been a complete and utter hot mess, but the level of idiocy, godawful “reporting” and outrageous spin has hit new heights in its coverage of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, including the recent events in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. The Washington Post, reporting on a “tip” from inside the Baltimore Police Department, would have you believe that Freddie Gray severing his own spine while handcuffed is a reasonable possible explanation for his untimely death, rather than he met his end at the hands of the police officers who took him into custody.

On Monday, CNN’s resident hack, Don Lemon, continued to report from the scene of a senior center fire, and theorize about it being the result of rioting in Baltimore, even after a fire department spokesperson told WaPo that the blaze was completely unrelated.

Side note: The Frisky was launched in 2008 by Turner Broadcasting, which also owns CNN. Early on in our history, we partnered with CNN.com and they crossposted a number of our articles in their Living section, which was instrumental in growing our readership. Chances are, a lot of you longtime readers came to The Frisky via CNN. I’m obviously grateful to Turner for launching/funding the site for its first few years, and to CNN for helping us grow, but if we were still owned by Turner Broadcasting, I would not be able to say this without getting fired: FUCK CNN. CNN is a fucking joke. That’s all.

Also on CNN, we had Ashleigh Banfield, a white woman, chastising Baltimore Councilman Carl Stokes, a Black man, for using the n-word during a previous appearance on Erin Burnett’s show. Stokes was criticizing Baltimore officials for repeatedly referring to those involved in the protests/riots as “thugs,” given its racist undertones, saying that they should “just call them n***ers” because it essentially means the same thing. Banfield had Stokes on her show the next day and exhibited peak tone deaf whiteness by condescending to Stokes, saying:

“I was watching Erin’s show last night and I was livid. I have to say, you’re a leader and so many people have said don’t say it in rap, don’t say it so loosely, don’t assume you can say it because you’re one color and another color can’t. It’s just so painful to hear it no matter what color we are and I’m glad you decided not to use it on this show.”

That Banfield misses the importance of context when using the n-word indicates her and her network’s shallow understanding of racism and racist language, while the entitlement in policing a Black man’s use of the word shows a smug indifference to learning more.

And then over at Fox News, there was Geraldo. Reminder: Before Rupert Murdoch gave him a “serious” news job, Geraldo was the Jerry Springer of his time. Men were finding out they were NOT the father from Geraldo years before Maury Povich went to Costco and stocked up on pregnancy tests. And since then, Geraldo has basically been the Donald Trump of war correspondents, given to gross exaggeration and self-centering idiocy. Naturally, Geraldo has been parading around Baltimore like he owns the place, and given his tendency towards drama, I’m shocked he hasn’t been doing so in a helmet and bullet proof vest, you know, to protect him from scary Black “vandals.” Appearing on Sean Hannity’s show on Tuesday night, “vandal” is the word Geraldo used to describe the gentleman below, who tried desperately to engage him just before the show went to air:

And frankly, MSNBC is not that much better. Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris-Perry have smart, thoughtful, informed guests, thankfully, but that shouty monster, Chris Matthews, gets the peak timeslot with his ear-bludgeoning deference to the hero cop narrative.

In short, if you rely solely on the mainstream media, in particular cable news, to inform you about complex topics like police brutality and racial unrest, what you’re learning is not only very little but it’s also WRONG. Luckily, the internet is full of brilliant people writing and talking about these issues and if you actually give a shit about Baltimore, its citizens and Freddie Gray — not to mention the countless other Black men and women who have lost their lives to police brutality — then I hope you’ll find this list informative and helpful. It is hardly a complete list, and if you’ve seen something you’d like to suggest I include, email me at [email protected]

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There’s something that needs to be cleared up: the civil-rights movement was not successful because the quiet dignity of nonviolent protests appealed to the morality of the white public. Nonviolent direct action, a staple employed by many organizations during the civil-rights movement, was and is a much more sophisticated tactic. Organizers found success when nonviolent protests were able to provoke white violence, either by ordinary citizens or police, and images of that brutality were transmitted across the country and the rest of the world. The pictures of bloodied bodies standing in nonviolent defiance of the law horrified people at home and proved embarrassing for the country in a global context.

So anyone who calls for protestors to remain “peaceful,” like the civil-rights activists of old, must answer this question: What actions should be taken when America refuses to be ashamed? Images of black death are proliferating beyond our capacity to tell each story, yet there remains no tipping point in sight—no moment when white people in America will say, “Enough.” And no amount of international outrage diminishes the US’s reputation to the point of challenging its status as a hegemonic superpower.

Baltimore is stuck, captured by the injustices of the past as well as the countless individual choices of the present. The city’s ills—its poverty, its fatherlessness, its police violence—are rooted in these same patterns of segregation and discrimination. This isn’t an excuse—Baltimore has had a generation of politicians, white and black, who can renovate tourist areas and implement new police techniques, but who can’t provide relief and opportunity to its most impoverished residents—but it is important context. Even at their absolute best, the city’s leaders have to contend with the cumulative impact of past disadvantage. White flight means a smaller tax base and fewer resources for improvement; industrial collapse means fewer jobs; crack and violence means a generation of “missing” black men, in jail or in the ground; a culture of police violence means constant tension with the policed.

If you are not listening, not exposing yourself to unfamiliar perspectives, not watching videos, not engaging in conversation, then you are perpetuating white privilege and white supremacy. It is exactly your ability to not hear, to ignore the situation, that is a mark of your privilege. People of color cannot turn away. Race affects our lives every day. We must consider it all the time, not just when it is convenient.

If the sustained psychological terror of being reared in an economically disenfranchised neighborhood, babysat by a failing school, and abused by aggressive police didn’t leave you with the tools to effectively organize against state sanctioned terrorism in a way that society finds “respectable”—in other words, voting and being polite enough to say, “Please, suh, don’t kill us no mo’!”—then far be it from me to mourn the loss of Nike socks and Remy bundles and exaggerated reports of violence against police that leave out this week’s violence at the hands of police, and of White counter-protestors who attacked and berated people for the past three days on the city’s streets.

The relationship between communities and cops needs cleansing. … Without civil communication, a constant police presence— especially marked by hostility or violence—feels like occupation. Police can do their part to repair the Baltimore they’ve long played a role in ravaging, simply by speaking to residents and responding when spoken to. The first step in valuing a black life is to acknowledge the person living it when she’s right in front of you.

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