Black America’s Lost Generation Speaks Up

Kai Wright in The Nation:

ScreenHunter_1191 May. 10 18.50Allen Bullock became an unwitting star of the Baltimore riots. In a photo splashed across the front page of The Baltimore Sun, the 18-year-old stood on the hood of a cop car, smashing the windshield with an orange cone. It was a striking portrait of the youthful rage that has forced everyone from President Obama to Geraldo Rivera to belatedly notice West Baltimore’s pain.

Bullock’s well-meaning parents urged him to turn himself in to the police. “We wanted Allen to do the right thing,” his mother told The Guardian. That sentiment plunged the family into a trick bag of morality that black people routinely encounter when they brush up against the criminal-justice system. For smashing that window, Bullock is being held on $500,000 bail and faces a sentence of four to eight years in prison. Bail for the six officers charged with taking Freddie Gray’s life topped out at $350,000. We couldn’t ask for a starker example of property being valued higher than black life.

Whether Bullock and his peers had already done “the right thing” by erupting in the streets of Baltimore will remain the subject of debate for some time. What’s clear, though, is that their rioting prompted a remarkable shift in the public discussion over police violence. What had been a narrow debate about cops opened up into something larger—and more honest.

More here.