It’s winter in Baltimore: “Makes me wanna holler…”

I can’t wrap my head around what is happening in Baltimore.

On the day of Freddie Gray’s homegoing — and despite his family’s pleas for peace — some people turned a protest into burning and looting businesses. These people set fire to a structure that, when finished, would have provided affordable housing to 60 senior citizens.

Misguided people took what started as a protest about 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death in police custody and turned it into an opportunity to destroy property, steal and attack the police.  Come on people, do you really think this will help anyone? Do you lack the discipline and self-control needed to refrain from making a bad situation worse?

If you think these acts will assist in unraveling the mystery of Freddie Gray’s death, you are delusional. Why not channel your anger and frustration into something positive, like rebuilding that senior center? There is no excuse for this nonsense.  Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that riots are the language of the unheard. If that’s true, then the jobless, the under-educated and the hopeless need a new vocabulary. When Dr. King and his associates protested, they were respectful, strategic and most importantly non-violent.

Rioting, to my knowledge, has never worked.  The First Amendment, which guarantees free speech and the right to assemble, does not cover arson and looting. Those are crimes that will land you in jail. Further, these acts will only serve to distract from getting to the bottom of what happened to Freddie Gray on April 12.

Gray’s death needs to be investigated and the cause of his death should be resolved truthfully. Let’s pray that fact won’t get lost in the streets of Baltimore.

Thankfully, God always has a ram in the bush, as was the case in Ferguson, Mo. after the death of Michael Brown.  The Baltimore ministers, Nation of Islam members, Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers and others who are helping to restore calm are standing in a dangerous gap.  Some of these men and women live in the community and are aware of its problems and what it will take to fix them.

One such man is Pastor Donte’ Hickman of Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore. In an interview with CNN last night Pastor Hickman said the burning of the church’s senior center caused him to hit the reset button.  “We were seeking to restore people while we bought property,” he said of the building project.

“I see revival…..I see us now coming back bigger and better than before,” he said. “I am a man of faith. Every negative is just our opportunity to fight back with another positive.”

Finally, a voice of reason in a sea of despair.

And speaking of boldness, how about the mother who saw her teenage son on TV taking part in the riots? She went down to the scene, slapped him across his head and pulled him out of the crowd before the police had a chance to put her child in jail. I could see my mother doing that. In fact, one time she did something similar — but that’s another blog for a different day.

That’s what’s missing in Baltimore, in Ferguson, in New York and all cities where unrest has taken hold: adults who care enough to snatch some kids up and put them on the right path before the next riot begins.


An ode to flip flops and wearing white after Labor Day


My daughters say my short toes don’t look so good in them, but I love me some flip flops. In Atlanta, we wear these whimsical, slippery shoes well into the fall. For me, they are the closest thing to going barefoot.

Our office is pretty casual, so I wear them to work, prompting comments like, “I didn’t know you were that short.” Generally, I have good intentions. I will wear them in then change into heels once I’m at my desk. Lately though, I’ve forgotten the heels in the car, opting for comfort but not sacrificing style. I have them in every color in the rainbow. I even picked up two pairs of Coach flip flops in Virginia, where the weather was turning cool. What can I say? They were on sale ya’ll.

Not everyone is a fan of this casual footwear. I called my friend John-John Williams IV, fashion editor at the Baltimore Sun, and boy did I get an earful. In fact, I felt a bit uncivilized after talking to him.

“They are just so casual,” he said. “People don’t dress up enough in society. That is just the ultimate in us being casual. It’s a slippery slope. Where do you stop? It turns into wearing yoga gear out to dinner. There has to be a time when people say enough is enough.”

The Howard University graduate and New Orleans native hates seeing people wearing flip flops at work, church and semi-formal affairs.

Making matters worse, said John-John, are people who expose their heels and toes to the world despite not having had a pedicure “since Hector was a puppy.” I had to laugh at that one. A New Orleans saying, he said.

On the flip side, wearing white after Labor Day is not only acceptable, it’s fashionable. John-John recently saw Rihanna in concert and marveled at the singer’s Christian Louboutin white snake-skin over-the-knee boots.

“A very bold and confident woman can pull off white. It doesn’t hide anything. Black is slimming, white does the opposite,” he said. “There’s nothing prettier, nothing more regal or powerful than a woman in an all-white ensemble.”

Think Olivia Pope. All the fall and winter collections contain white this year, he said.

There’s one notable exception, he said. White shoes should definitely stay in the closet after Labor Day, unless you happen to own a pair of white snake-skin boots with those famous red bottoms.