(BALTIMORE – February 23, 2020) – Like many Baltimoreans, I love this city. Born and raised in East and West Baltimore, there are countless memories of happier days. However, these sweet memories are tainted today by a reckless murder rate and other crimes. Lawlessness prevails as the cops have taken a knee … ever since Freddie Gray. In any event, let us pray for some leadership that can turn us away from utter self-destruction, for this is still our home.
After enduring the worst night ever in this city during the 2015 Uprising, there was a calm that came the morning after. I’ll never forget it.
Five years later, the question has to be posed: What has changed?
Reporters from national news outlets landed at Penn-North and figured these rundown buildings that litter West North Avenue were the result of the riots. Then, it hit them like a ton of bricks: These dilapidated properties were here long before Freddie Gray died, and that what they saw was, in fact, the norm.
One of my main problems living here, I must admit, is that we have one of the highest percentages of Black elected officials in the country, yet East and West Baltimore both look worse than they did 50 years ago. This baffles me.
We praise Black elected officials, but we act as if we can point to some actual progress.
With a Presidential and Mayoral election happening on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, I pray that we, as a Black community, put on our thinking caps. For too long, we all vote. Or at least, many of us. But, what do we get for our vote? This is a critical question that deserves answers. For too long, in my opinion, our vote has been taken for granted, even though we can swing any election. As a people, we clearly don’t know our value. And it is our own fault because we have failed to educate ourselves. The Goon Squad is gone. Willie and Victorine Adams are gone. Harvey Johnson is long gone. We must therefore prepare ourselves!
We can no longer afford to just pull the lever or fill in the dot on Election Day. That gets you nothing, quite frankly. We have to learn this political game, and then we also have to understand the economic game, for politics without economics is absolute buffoonery.
Sadly, Black people have yet to master politics. And it is time we change that. We all have to, collectively and individually, study the game. Until we do, these Black politicians we consistently vote for will continue to be ineffective and only perpetually serve themselves.
On any given day, I get calls for all kinds of political advice. From this I’ve learned that as painstaking as it is, those of us who know have to continually educate those of us who don’t know.
So, here are a few suggestions on what we need to know:
– The three levels of elected officials: federal, state, and local
– What districts we live in on all three levels – like: the 7th Congressional district, the 44th State Legislative district, and the 9th Councilmanic district
– What elected officials currently represent us and the length of their terms; some are 2 years, some 4 years, and a couple are 6 years
– The major parties and their doctrines
– How bills become laws on all three levels
Long story short, many of us talk about politics, we talk about who we like, and some of us even go to political events. However, there is so much to learn about the game and how it’s played. I think one key component we must study is political machines. For me, this is the primary vehicle that we must come to know and understand. These machines control jobs, money, resources and the like. Hence, if we as a community were up on our game, we’d have a really strong machine that would make sure our communities were served.
“Power concedes nothing without demand.” These famous words were uttered by Frederick Douglass. He said that “it never did and it never will.” So, sure – go out and vote on April 28, 2020. But more than that, take some time to study who typically wins and who loses, and why.
Ask yourself, how can North and Charles gets transformed overnight for White folks, but Penn-North, the Blackest corner in Baltimore – even after being the international center of media attention 5 years ago – hasn’t changed a lick? And the answer is, the people of Historic East and West Baltimore clearly lack leadership and vision. This is why we have to do a better job getting involved in the political process: to hold these clowns accountable. And if they do not serve our purposes, we must vote them out over and over again until we all get it right.
When I travel to Randallstown or Bowie, I see modern recreation centers, new schools, and state-of-the-art resources for Black people. I see Black people thriving. What do I see at Penn-North? Nothing but despair.
Pardon my ramble, I simply want us, as a people, to do much better. It is unbelievably heart-wrenching to see our city fall into shambles the way it is. It’s as if a bunch of children are at home with no adult supervision. The city is off the chain, and that it is why it is imperative that we all do a better job fighting for our community, because what we have right now is absolute lunacy!