My Facebook feed is schizophrenic: a sweet baby born--those chubby cheeks! Announcements about the Town Meeting, where bylaws and budgets are still passed by the citizenry with a "aye" or "nay" vote. Someone asks who to call about building a fence. And Baltimore burns, fueled by rage over injustices cultivated centuries ago. The CVS in my friend's neighborhood is looted. "This is not my city," he posts.
But it's simmering in every city, I think.
I don't know what to do, but fulfilling my civic duty seems appropriate. So, I go to my first annual Town Meeting. I file into the high school gym, a Unitarian minister offers a non-sectarian dedication, we pledge our allegiance to the flag, and the moderator begins reading the budget, line by line.
I sit by the exit in case things run long, and look around. I'm definitely one of the younger attendees. Plenty of empty seats. Of course, there aren't any hugely contested items this year--like whether the high school should install lights on the football field for night games, an issue that reportedly filled both the gym and the cafeteria a few years back with young and old citizens concerned about the possible glare in their backyard.
There is a murmur of shock when a woman dramatically accuses the Historical Commission of illegally taking her historical gazebo, but the chain of custody is eventually sorted. Everything in the warrant passes, and we adjourn in fewer than three hours. "Well, that was a snoozer," one lady laughs on her way out the door.
At home, flames fill the TV screen. My Facebook feed blips: a lost tooth! A friend wins a professional award. More about local fence companies. A former classmate, in Baltimore, posts that his neighborhood is okay. The whole city is not on fire. Baltimore will recover.
It will, of course. But if all we do is analyze mayoral missteps, criticize the sensationalistic 24-hour news cycle, and decry the stupidity of violence and destruction, it will happen again. I'm not condoning any of those things, but I do believe the anger over abuse of power is legitimate. I'm just not sure what this white girl from the suburbs can do about it right now, other than to recognize white privilege on and off my Facebook feed, and to heed the stories of those who aren't surrounded by it.