Baltimore: The City That Burns – Part 1 (Race)

| April 29, 2015 | 3 Comments

I was born and bred in northeast Baltimore City. Freddie Gray was killed by police after being arrested bodily intact and showing up at the precinct with a crushed vocal box and a severed spine. Police took him on a high speed joyride while handcuffed and he died 7 days later while in a coma. Police still have not issued the findings of their investigation after 13 days. This looks like they’re trying to get their story straight instead of justice being received by the family and the city.

After peaceful protests on Saturday, riots broke out. On Monday students in local schools coordinated an attack on police officers. About 20 students were cornered by police who shut down mass transit after making schools close early, so the kids were stranded. Fires broke out in Baltimore and people lost their minds acting like the city was burning from Cedonia to Edmondson Village and “can’t believe this is happening to us! I thought we were better than this!” comments were flying about. As heartbreaking as this indeed is, here is some truth about Baltimore. I am no expert. These are just my thoughts on it. DC is my home now, but I will always represent for Baltimore and never deny being from her.


First, understand that my hometown exists in two realities. The people in Hampden, Roland Park, Charles Village, South Baltimore, Fells Point, Canton, the Inner Harbor, Mount Washington, Mount Vernon, and Federal Hill have a much different view and experience of Baltimore than people in Sandtown-Winchester, Park Heights, and Reservoir Hill, who also have a different experience than those in Cedonia, Northwood, and all along Cooks Lane.

The first areas I mentioned are mostly White. They rarely leave their areas. The other areas I mentioned are mostly Black. Many of them never leave their areas, either. Baltimore has had a race problem since the town was founded. The city had slaves. Maryland itself fought for both the Union and the Confederacy (in Southern Maryland). (I’m a descendant of Dorchester County slaves, and related to Harriet Tubman.)

When you see Baltimore “burning” on TV, understand first that CNN is not showing all of Baltimore. Local channels are getting it right. As this article states from USA Today, much of the city is unaffected by it. I have family members calling crazed and concerned about my family’s safety and the areas of unrest are nowhere near them.


Secondly, understand how race plays a role here. White Orioles’ spectators called protestors “animals,” “niggers,” and “thugs” on Saturday and got their butts handed to them. They turned around and then said, “See how vile the (mostly black) protestors are?!” Well, maybe don’t pop off at the mouth in the city that is too real for “real” with racial epithets and maybe your nose won’t get broken. Ya dig? If you can’t see yourself doing that, then stay home in Baltimore or Anne Arundel County next time and shut up when it’s time to shut up.

This could have all been avoided. Apparently, the protestors were called apes and the n-word. (They were bold in their racism. I mean…a bunch of black people protesting who are already fed up and then you rain down those kinds of insults? Death wish.)

For some perspective on the race/class problem that Baltimore has, consider the following history tweeted out by my friend Alan Hanson…who is white.:

  • In 1942 Baltimore’s entire black population (20% of the total population) lived in 2% of its residential space.
  • White realtors pioneered “block busting”, which was using racial fear to convince whites to buy cheaply along Fulton Ave. in West Baltimore.
  • White workers and their unions actively prevented black workers from gaining admission to skilled apprenticeships.
  • In 1943 15 black Sparrow’s Point workers were admitted to the riveter apprenticeship. Thousands of white workers walked out in protest.
  • Many Baltimore unions maintained segregated locals. Black workers were relegated to unskilled work, while white workers dominated skilled trades.
  • The result: in 1960 68% of unskilled workers were black while 92% of skilled workers were white. (Generational racial conditioning at play here. “Blacks are lazy!” No, not all. Just were robbed of a fair opportunity. – Edit: me)


  • Baltimore, is deeply segregated. Leaders of America, like Baltimore, have systematically excluded black people from basic rights as citizens. (I mean, my God, they kept blacks out of the same companies where they worked and then complained about them wanting the same rights while deriding them as being less than human, lazy, and shiftless, but not owning the fact that those opportunities that gave whites a leg up in the past and denied to blacks then had repercussions in the present-day. Where do some of y’all get off thinking that the past doesn’t matter today?! – Edit: a pissed off me.)
  • We are reaping what we’ve sown in America. All American institutions that prevented racial progress and helped maintain white supremacy as guilty as hell and the chickens have come home to roost – that goes historically for cops, churches, unions, etc. (Edit: Combination of Alan and myself there.)


These problems aren’t new to Baltimore, they’re just now being exposed. Thank God. Race has always played a role in keeping the city segregated. Seriously, if Johns Hopkins University had not expanded Charles Village and the areas near the main post office would not be gentrified today. The white areas get better police protection and response. They can riot during a Raven’s Super Bowl win and not be arrested or have their spines severed. They can cause millions in property damage and they’re just “celebrating”. Black Baltimoreans cannot do the same. They have poor policing in their neighborhoods and even worse city services. Growing up, they never plowed our street during a snowstorm until most of it was already melted away. A neighbor won a City Council seat and they plowed 3-4 times. Why weren’t we all just treated the same to begin with? Calling 911 was a joke because they would send the fire engine first, then the cops, then the ambulance you needed for someone having a massive heart attack in front of you.


Black Baltimore has been underserved for a long time compared to White areas and it has nothing to do with who takes better care of what neighborhoods. Boarded up houses persist all over the black East and West parts of Baltimore City so much that it looks like a war zone in some places.

More tomorrow…


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Comments (3)

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  1. Laughlin girl says:

    Could not have said it better myself.
    One thing you do not know about Baltimore City. To save money the Mayor and city council took away one day of garbage collection putting it down to one day a week. the richest area in the city, Guilford, protested and they got to keep both days. All others are getting garbage picked up once a week. I guess money does talk louder

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