I'm from Baltimore.

It’s exhausting telling people where I’m from. “No, but I'm from the county.”

“No, not where The Wire was filmed.”

“No, not in the city. I live about 30 minutes away.” 

“Oh, and yeah, my family is Haitian. “

Maybe it's because I'm brown, and most people automatically assume people who look like me should speak a certain way, and live in a certain zip code.  But as soon as I mention the last bit "my family is Haitian" it's like everything I resemble makes sense to them. "Ohh so that's why you speak like that."

Today I woke up tired. Most likely from watching the news and reading my twitter feed and being angry at what friends were posting on Facebook – not realizing how racist their words are, or them - from the night before.

We’re all ignorant to what’s actually happening, unless we’ve been through the trenches, and experienced what those who are in the media have been through, or have some empathy towards a disenfranchised group.

It surprised me that people were shocked about these protests, and even more surprised at the buildings that were being burned vs. the actual core of what is happening/has happened time and time again.

Maybe it’s because my family came from the trenches – of a third world country – that they provided me with the safety of growing up no where close to anything that may resemble what they have gone through.

When I say I’m from Baltimore, I feel that there’s two sides. The county and what you see on the news. Just like Haiti.  Portraying a place as always violent and in distress is one thing especially if you've never visited.  But we all know there's two sides to every story.

The core of it all is fucked up. Money, politics and race. It all comes down to race and the injustices that occur from a system that wasn’t built for anyone else than those who built it.

Today I felt torn. I wanted to help, but didn’t want to get hurt. Physically, emotionally – afraid of feeling and seeing what I’ve been raised not to even experience.

This is the exact reason why I need to help. To understand what people who look like me feel - the same people that when others ask where I'm from, assume I am. To create change and to uplift those who think they never have a chance at survival.  There are too many people running away from what's happening, ignoring these issues (and people) as if they don't exist, and blaming those who are hurt for disrupting "their" city.

“People don’t want to believe that they actually are racists or that the systems & institutions that they pay into and buy into are actually working actively against certain people…people can’t come up with how they feel and as a result don’t want to face the realities of where they live.” - Clinton Yates