Baltimore is beautiful.

My hometown of Baltimore, the city I love with all of my heart, has been in the news a lot recently. I’ve actively avoided local and national news because A) mainstream media sensationalizes everything, focusing on the sound bites instead of the entire truth, and B) Baltimore’s history is complicated and can’t be explained in a sound bite.

Yes, Baltimore has it’s flaws, but I love it. I love Baltimore because Baltimore is a city that doesn’t give up. Baltimore is a city that’s quirky in all of the right ways. Baltimore is a city filled with people who rise to the occasion time and time again.

I’m not going to write about Baltimore’s history, especially in regards to the topic of race relations, or the lack of listening and abundance of jumping to conclusions I’ve observed. There are people far more qualified to do so. What I do want to write about is what I’ve seen in person.

I recently saw a tweet that resonated with me in light of events from the last two weeks:

If we can go from riots to a block party in 24hrs, we get to keep the “Charm” in “Charm City” #Baltimore

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Last Saturday, I joined a few friends to help distribute food at an ad hoc food pantry run from a church basement. There have been many food and toiletry drives because areas hit the hardest were mostly food desert to begin with.

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When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the abundance of people there to help. The assembly line to create the food bags wrapped around the church. At first we thought we’d have to find another location to help, but a few people accepted our offer to give them a break in the assembly line. We spent the first hour or two creating the bags and directing neighbors to where they could wait in line. Once the bags were created, I helped usher people through the line. This was my favorite part because I got to talk with people and hear their perspectives. The following are things I observed or snippets of conversations I had:

“People have got to stop killing! Us! The police! Everybody!”

“The people who came in here and did this [the looting and burning of businesses] aren’t even from here. They took away everything… Our food. Our medicines. We need to take care of what we have in our neighborhood.”

“I wish people would listen to us.”

“I could be Freddie Gray.”

“Oh, don’t you worry about us, honey. We’ll be okay.”

Across the street, a few women sang songs of worship. The song that caught my ear was Victory Is Mine Today.

Love is mine
Love is mine
Love today is mine
I told Satan
Get thee behind
Love today is mine

Please continue to pray for Baltimore.

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