Baltimore, My Baltimore
Baltimore is the United States of America.
I would argue the city that has received worldwide attention over the last 72hours is about as American as you can get.
It is the closest city to the Mason Dixon line, the border of the Civil War, the place where Northern inclusion and idealism clashed with Southern ignorance and segregation.
The major result of that conflict was and always has been a nation and in this case a city at the intersection of change. People trying to find a better way clashing with people unable to accept those who are different from them.
It may not always be pretty but to assume or suggest that a city like Baltimore is somehow undesirable or infested is ignorant.
It makes sense that Donald Trump is so vehemently against a place like Baltimore. Like Philly, Boston, San Francisco, LA, Miami and of course New York, Baltimore is a place where the opportunity is not without a little danger. It’s where people are struggling to survive against a foe far greater than any bear or lion. They are face to face with humans. Real people. Real life. Reality is not something you can hide from behind a Trump building doorman. Baltimore is all of that. It is the face of urban America and I’m sure it scares the hell out of Trump and his drones.
It is a city that is a direct reflection of what we have created, fostered and allowed as a nation, a culture, and a species. It is a city brimming with Art, Music, Comedy, occasionally baseball and Culture but it’s also a city still healing from 200 years or more of being a slave port and more recently the site of the Freddie Gray protests. It is, like America, both good and bad.
I want to be absolutely upfront about my connection to Baltimore. Both of my parents were born here. My mother died here. I however grew up in an affluent rural area of Baltimore County, Maryland known as Monkton. We were in the Hereford Zone which meant on snow days we were allotted extra time to navigate the roads to school. In 1980 it was definitely rural. To be honest when my parents first moved there in 1978 just a few months before I was born it was more of a horse and cow town and less of the fancy escape that it is today. Today Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos lives out that way, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank calls Monkton home as well as numerous pro athletes who enjoy the quiet natural beauty over the hustle and bustle of downtown Baltimore where they make their living.
I have vivid memories of my mom and dad loading us into the station wagon and traveling down 83 and the Jones Falls Expressway to Light, Pratt, and Lombard streets to visit the Inner Harbor, Lexington Market, Fort McHenry (You know the one where that most patriotic of American songs, the Star Spangled Banner, was written), the B&O Railroad Museum, the Babe Ruth House, the first and frankly superior, Washington Monument, the Peabody Library, The Walters Art Gallery, the Meyerhoff, the Lyric, to Memorial Stadium and then Camden Yards and M&T for Oriole and Ravens games.
Despite growing up in the country where many of my friends, no doubt influenced by their parents, felt Baltimore wasn’t a place to visit, my family grew up living and appreciating and welcoming every chance we had to drive in and see the actual place we called home.
We were from Baltimore. I’ve never said I’m from Maryland. I’m from Baltimore. I’m not from Monkton. I’m from Baltimore. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of anything other than maybe my family. Sure it’s unreasonable and short-sighted and bias but so is any persons affiliation for a longitude and latitude.
And yes it has problems. Every real city does. It’s not a city buffered by 500 miles of white-washed purity and safety. We’re talking about a place where real people live and battle against all of the crime and poverty because that’s all they can do. And that’s the lot they drew in life. It’s easy for someone in my position to say, they should clean up their act. The reality is despite the hardest and most sincere 24/7 effort many of the finest people in this nation have to do their best to provide and care for their families in a very difficult situation. They are part of system that allows for drugs and crime to take hold because good honest people aren’t given the support they need.
Instead they are used as a political weapon. When I first heard Trumps remarks about my hometown I got upset and then for a few minutes I thought about all the friends and family I have who would say, ‘he’s not wrong Baltimore is disgusting and crime-infested.’ They’re the same people who are afraid to go down there not solely because of some ridiculous fear of being shot or robbed while sitting in their Range Rover on Pratt St but because they’re afraid to even GO downtown. They don’t do it. They only go downtown for the Orioles or Ravens, try to get inside as quick as they can, and then scurry back to their sad little lives in the county.
It took a lot for me to leave that bubble in Monkton. I’ve lived on 29th and Greenmount. I worked a few blocks away from where the Freddie Gray riots took place. I’ve also lived in LA, New York, Denver, Orlando, and San Francisco and the reality is all of America’s cities have issues and all of them are beautiful because cities are where the interaction and survival of our species really takes place.
It’s always amazing to me how conservatives are so gung-ho about protecting unborn fetuses but once those people are here, once they’re alive and struggling and need help they are cast aside.
Its amazing to me how so many poor white Americans somehow think Trump feels this way solely about poor black people. Make no mistake, he fucking despises you too. You are a vote. Nothing more, nothing less. He cares about your alt-right, bigoted views as long as you get him re-elected. It’s not about making America great or keeping America great, it’s about keeping him in office by energizing a fan-base that has no interest in equality or fairness.
The question for the rest of us is how will we respond? Are you registered to vote? Is everyone you know registered to vote? Are they ready to vote in the primary and the general? And I’m by now means telling you who to vote for. If you wanna vote for that piece of 5th Avenue white trash then by all means go ahead and continue to do your minuscule part to delay our evolution. But if you are against anything he stands for then you better damn sight be registered and be rallying your friends to register too.
Our time in history is now. There is no middle ground.
There is good and there is Trump.