Photo: Sheila Dixon is the only 2020 Mayoral candidate who showed up, by herself, at Penn-North the day after the Freddie Gray Uprising in April 2015.
(BALTIMORE – March 27, 2020) – In my last column, I mentioned how political commercials have started hitting the radio, TV and the Web. The goal, of course, is to sway our vote. I get it. And with Sheila Dixon having always led this crowded field of 30-plus candidates, we know it’s going to get even uglier.
However, before we drink their Kool-Aid, I simply want to remind folks that just like a seedy man trying to get close to a woman for some sex, politicians will tell us any and everything that they think we want to hear in exchange for our vote. My advice: Keep your legs closed. We have to protect our vote with everything we’ve got, including timely information.
While I won’t call it out-and-out lying, the rhetoric implored by these mayoral candidates is certainly a far stretch from the truth.
Case in point: In one month, Baltimore will reach the 5-year mark since the Freddie Gray Uprising. As a homeowner who lives blocks from Penn-North in Sandtown, I want to take a moment to set the record straight. I hear people saying a lot of off-the-wall comments about a subject matter in which they have little or no knowledge whatsoever. I also want to caution people that these truth-stretching politicians will even send otherwise well-known surrogates to do their bidding. These surrogates may have some relationship with the broader Black community, but with respect to Baltimore City Proper, they couldn’t tell you where Woodland Avenue is or Port Street, even if they had a GPS.
For those of us born and raised in Baltimore, I must state that this message is totally irrelevant because those who truly know Baltimore do not need my help understanding anything. They’ve lived it. They’ve walked these streets. They know Edmondson Village, Park Heights and Pleasant View Gardens better than
But for those who may not know the truth, I pray one finds some enlightenment …
FACT: The only new development – if you want to call it new – in Sandtown since Freddie Gray is a renovated Western District Police Station made possible by our friends at War Horse, the non-profit associated with Under Armor. As a matter of fact, they also bought some old properties located directly across the street from Western on Mount Street.
While the plans had been in the works since Freddie Gray, the community was not informed until January 2016 when Tisha Edwards came and told us. I’ll never forget the meeting because, once again, the community was being played. Certain folks knew about the renovations for months, but they never informed the community. And that is simply not cool.
For me, it’s that old “divide and conquer” plan that has been used against us since our first interaction with the European on these shores.
Secondly, I must point out that all throughout that Freddie Gray Uprising period on WJZ TV 13, the United Way collected donations in the name of the Freddie Gray Uprising. Now, I am aware of a couple of people who got some small grants to do some work in Sandtown and Penn-North since then, like Black Professional Men, Inc. Also, I imagine a couple of other groups received small grants for this or that project. However, from a broader perspective, that is a drop in the bucket. Put simply, where is the money?
One Baltimore, a non-profit, also collected money. A grant or two was given out, I was told. One noted advocate got some work. But again, we never saw much of anything materialize. I was later informed that some of those who pledged money never sent the money. I don’t know.
What I do know is that we haven’t seen much of anything in Sandtown beyond Western District’s face lift.
So, when Mary Miller does her introductory commercial in front of Western District, we, in the community, are crystal clear that this woman has no insight on our needs whatsoever. She can elaborate on institutional racism until the cows come home, but frankly, I’m insulted. I take issue with Miller inserting President Barack Obama’s name to a majority Black city. We do not need her analysis. We know all too well that the Black community in Baltimore was forsaken the entire time of the Obama presidency, much because Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was singularly focused on the Inner Harbor. She had been sold a bag of goods that something like the Gran Prix was a good fit for our city. Clearly, it wasn’t as the race never made a profit despite some $10 million in our tax dollars being invested in it. At the time, Blake also closed a bunch of recreation centers.
Obama’s stimulus money, I should also note, went solely to downtown zip codes. Not much of anything came to East and West Baltimore, where it was/is needed most.
Another thing. When Miller suggests she has quietly supported Black businesses, we find that to be a joke. We don’t need cloak and dagger support. We need absolute, unapologetic support – not a person hiding. The only way to address a problem is by identifying it, arresting it, and replacing the former transgressions with productive solutions, such as reparations.
The fight for Black people in Baltimore never made any progress from leaders being coy. When I think of George McMechen, who tirelessly stayed on Mayor J. Barry Mahool’s hind parts – he was not a covert type of person. He was not tip-toeing around the issue of race. He addressed it head-on.
McMechen, a prominent Black attorney, joined forces with his brother-in-law, William Ashbie Hawkins, and pushed the Civil Rights agenda in the Mahool era. Mahool, it should be known, is considered the Father of Segregation. The policies that came out of his early 20th century administration (1907-1911) are still with us today. Further, his policies were replicated across the country.
So, we need more than a few soundbites from wannabe politicians. We need concrete and tangible solutions. We don’t need tepid commentaries. We need boots on the ground. We need policies reversed. And we need leaders with the testicular fortitude, like Sheila Dixon, to make the necessary changes.
Also, Mary Miller does not understand what the last millionaire candidate learned in 2016. A wonderful man with a heart of gold,
David Warnock also had a boatload of his own campaign money. However, at the end of the day, while people fondly remember his ‘pickup truck’ commercial, that was about all they remembered. In the end, he landed in 4th place with almost 11,000 votes.
Please understand, for a mayoral candidate to effectively penetrate our psyche in the Black community, one must have a solid track record and actual experience. You’ve got to walk these streets, and walk without fear. What you cannot do is buy your way into office. Just ask Michael Bloomberg. His recent presidential run didn’t last a good two weeks before he saw the writing on the wall. Sure, you can do pet projects to appease the camera, but the people of Baltimore know real from fake ‘all day long and twice on Sunday’. And we are rarely fooled.
So, stay awoke. Read any and everything you can on the candidates. Support Black-owned media outlets, like www.bmorenews.com. Do your own research. Ask the elders (they have more wisdom than all of us). Don’t forget how the last election was stolen. And most of all, don’t drink their Kool-Aid. All they are selling is hype. Nothing more. Nothing less.