The eruptions in Baltimore have been tied, in complex ways, to frustrations at American inequality...The rest of the column is not devoted to inequality in terms of law enforcement and our criminal justice system. It's all about income inequality. And while its true that income inequality disproportionately affects African Americans, that's also not what he addressed. He talked about the issue more broadly.
From his previous work, I know that Kristoff is aware of the role that racism plays in our country today. And yet he did what so many white people tend to do when black anger explodes...he appropriated their issues to make his own point.
It seems pretty clear to me that the "eruptions in Baltimore" had to do with the death of young black men at the hands of police officers and the lack of attention paid to that issue by our criminal justice system (until Marilyn Mosby came along). Perhaps Kristoff covered himself with that phrase "in complex ways," because the frustrations of black people in Baltimore have obviously been building for a long time due to a complex set of issues. But first things first. As long as police officers think it's OK to arrest young black men without probable cause and throw them in the back of a van where they meet an untimely death, I seriously doubt that income inequality is at the forefront of a black mother/father's mind.
I was actually hesitant to write this because I am a white person who doesn't live in Baltimore. So the truth is - I can't speak with any authority on what caused the eruptions. I hope that if I'm off base someone will come along and engage in the conversation to help enlighten me. But I think that talking about what happened in Baltimore without putting the question of racism in law enforcement/criminal justice front and center is an attempt to evade the very discussion we need to have.