Freddie Gray Didn’t Exist to the Other Baltimore, but the Soldiers Were Pretty Cool

I’ve been fairly uninspired and unamused by everything this past week.  Every time I get into my sporadic funks, I try to identify the source in order to help me work through my mood.  I’ve been out of work for a little over a month due to some health issues and today is the day I am supposed to return—Bingo!  My issue is that I don’t want to go back to work.

I’ve been a professional makeup artist for about six years and a licensed esthetician (skincare specialist) for three.  Working for one of the largest cosmetics brands in the world is both exciting and rewarding, and the perks seem endless.  Every day, my coworkers and I come to work all dolled up with what feels like 5 pounds of makeup strategically placed on our faces, necks, and sometimes décolletés so we can be sure to receive ample compliments throughout the day, which result in sales; looks sell!  Unfortunately, with the notion that human worth is dependent upon how physically attractive one is perceived (or how well one can get their makeup to transform their appearance), some of my coworkers have developed a condescending attitude when it comes to customers in need of makeup tips and skincare advice.

My job is located in a yuppie section of Baltimore City, close to the Inner Harbor and even closer to one of the largest housing authorities in the city.  Last spring, during the Freddie Gray protests, I became disgusted with the neighborhood.  Freddie Gray was a 25-year-old Black man and resident of Baltimore City who was severely injured in police custody while being transported in a police van.  Mr. Gray succumbed to his injuries a week later, igniting a series of protests and arrests.

The national guard came out in droves, and stood around for weeks so the residents and patrons would feel safe from the “dangerous rioters and looters” the media had warned them of.  People took pictures with the uniformed, armed saviors, struck up long conversations, and really enjoyed their company.  Business owners and employees even partook in the fun since business was down due to the city’s unrest.  It seemed that no one cared that a young man who was arrested for having switchblade in his possession was fatally injured while being arrested by six police officers.  When I looked out the window of my store, I saw people who were truly unbothered.  It was almost like they were celebrating.  These people will never know what it is like to be targeted by the police, nor will they ever have the fear that one of their beautiful Black children will be gunned down for “looking like a grown man”.

They live and shop blocks from a neighborhood where everyone is a target, but they refuse to believe that their next-door neighbors in the projects even exist.  These people walk around aimlessly, spending their days (and their paychecks) at Whole Foods and their nights at the taco bar while others are literally fighting for their neighborhoods and their lives.  I resent the fact that I have to interact with and service those who view my people as thugs that deserve to be killed because of the color of their skin.  Some customers place their money on the counter instead of placing it in my hand; some comment on how surprised they are that they were able to have such a pleasant interaction with me.  So, in conclusion, I cannot wait for work this evening!  (Major eye roll.)

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