There were two incidents that happened today that have sparked me to lose my blogging virginity. Firstly, I work at Johns Hopkins hospital and received a company-wide alert that a Physician walking to work had been assaulted today by two males in broad daylight. They stole his wallet and cell phone while he was on his way to presumably use his time and talent to assist the greater community. This brazen act of crime has become an all too common occurrence in East Baltimore. The other incident was an article I read this morning in the Sun reporting the utter failure of a “Citizens on Patrol” walk through Carrollton Ridge where a 5 year old girl was shot by a stray bullet less than 6 weeks ago. This type of community action is exactly what we need to combat the crime epidemic in Baltimore that, like the putrid smell around the harbor, so many Baltimoreans have come to accept as a byproduct of living in this city.
In the past few months I have been shocked by reports of daytime shootings at BBQ’s, drive by shootings, and the multitude of drug related crime that takes place on a daily basis in the streets of Baltimore. Questions constantly pop into my mind; what can we attribute this crime to? What can be done about it? It is clear that this is a growing problem that could have far reaching effects on Baltimore as a city. People and businesses are being scared away from locating in Baltimore city. If crime is allowed to run rampant the doctors who make Hopkins the number 1 hospital in the country (had to rep my place of employment), the courageous teachers who seek to change the status quo, the artists and musicians who makes Baltimore’s culture what it is, will leave and take their skills with them. Frankly, who can blame them? Everyone’s primary concern is for the safety of their family.
I believe that certain common mentalities need to be combated as much as raw criminal acts. Children in poor communities need to be offered options and role models. An idolization of crime and violence has been presented to many children who have never been exposed to anything else. Mullyman, an up and coming Bmore rapper, exalts Baltimore for its reputation of hard crime in his raps; Melo partakes in a stop snitching campaign. If these are the visions of success that poor Baltimore youth is exposed to it is no wonder that 15 year olds are committing heinous crimes. The other mentality that allows for the continuation of crime in Baltimore is the wealthy white “out of sight out of mind” mentality. Wealthy people drive their BMW’s into Baltimore city to work at Legg Mason or Constellation Energy and then drive their cars back out to their large houses in Guilford and Roland Park. They wake up and read stories in the paper of murders that may as well have taken place in foreign countries.
There is no easy solution to this problem and I would not pretend to know the best course of action. However, what is clearly needed is a greater sense of self-worth and responsibility from poor neighborhoods in Baltimore city. Along with this is the responsibility of those who have been dealt all the right cards to step up and give back. To point out two organizations that I am personally familiar with that have taken steps in the right direction I would like to give credit to the St. Pauls Bridges program and the Downtown Sailing Center. Both organizations are run by a mix of wealthy suburban kids and successful graduates of the program from Baltimore’s poorer urban areas. These programs provide an outlet for Baltimore’s youth and the much needed interaction between the usually segregated populations that each stand to learn a significant amount from each other.
These organizations and many more that exist just like them are just small drops in a large bucket. What needs to be changed is the collective conscience of the Baltimore community. The continued acceptance of this level of crime is not sustainable and will continue to grow and slowly devour this city that so many of us love.