I come across some of the best stories in Baltimore.
A black student tells me about his lifelong experiences with housing segregation—how he still feels its effects, even as a student at Johns Hopkins.
My social-science professors teach me about schools that are underfunded and hyper-segregated. They are run down by roaches and mold. They lack libraries, computers, experienced teachers, accelerated classes, counselors, and extracurriculars. Yet we send millions of kids—poor kids—to these schools and claim that America provides equal opportunity to all.
Across from the Inner Harbor, formerly homeless men share with me their journeys through police brutality, drug charges, imprisonment, and legal debt. On the way home, I notice countless others who have lost their homes, their credit, their drivers licenses, and their employment the very same way.
Hearing these stories, I wonder sometimes why I talk about my own.
Like racism, I know that Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other manifestations of religious extremism are alive and well. I often think about how inconceivably powerful institutions like these are. How many policies must be implemented to topple them? How many opinions must be changed? How many people must be fed? How many must suffer at the hands of senseless violence?
It is easy to feel hopeless when faced with problems like these. But by sharing my story, I am making an impact. I—and so many others—am slowly, thoughtfully, and certainly chipping away at the ideologies that seek to destroy us.
For all its dips, triumphs, and gore, this year has been invaluable. It has shown me how a family can work together to recover in the wake of trauma. It has shown me fear, and it has shown me mess. It has made me doubt my will to stay alive.
But it has also taught me to live a passionate existence. To demand justice for my dad, but also for the millions of people who are screwed over on a daily basis by racism, sexism, poverty, and violence. I don’t understand their struggle, and they won’t ever understand mine. But we are united by goodness and by loss, as the two are scrupulously intertwined.
here is a shorter version of my article published in CNN, remembering Dad…