Sarah Richards, a Canadian freelance writer and radio producer now living in Baltimore County (not Baltimore City) wrote this article as a response to protests and unrest in Baltimore City. Elise Swain, current resident of one of the neighborhoods that has made national and international headlines, responds to Ms. Richards:
For everyone who has not been present for the many peaceful protests, scattered riots, looting and fire that happened blocks away from my house that I saw with my own eyes: the national/international media is focusing on one section of one neighborhood where people not associated with the peaceful protests lashed out and took advantage of the situation. (Reminds me of the reason I do not like The Wire). What they won’t show you is hundreds and hundreds of my fellow Baltimoreans out cleaning up in the aftermath, handing out food to the 85,000 students that were kept out of school and away from the free lunch that 71,000 of them depend on AND giving food and water to officers of BCPD/BCFD, marching peacefully hand in hand, creating human barricades to protect officers in riot gear, etc.
Am I naive enough to think we don’t have more problems than your average city? Nope. There are neighborhoods that looked like war zones long before any of this went down. But nothing’s ever going to change if people like the author run out to the “rich, hidden” neighborhoods that upper-class white families “flee” to, to avoid dealing with issues. (Also, we in Baltimore City do know these “hidden” neighborhoods the author spoke of, because gentrification runs pretty much every aspect of neighborhood/community in my city so I resent the insinuation that no one knows these exist but that’s another discussion).
Mrs. Sarah Richards and her constituents are free to feel however they want about Baltimore, but I guarantee if you base your opinions off of the national media and/or shows like The Wire, you do not know my whole city, you do not know my people or the spirit most of us have. There’s a lot of fear mongering going on to distract from the positive things happening. I don’t think a perfect, permanent fix is around the corner in the slightest but for one of the first times in who knows how long, people in Baltimore (and the rest of Maryland for that matter) that don’t see these areas of the city are forced to see what gentrification has done and see how the other half live. These disenfranchised communities don’t need white saviors, they’ll raise themselves up without Mrs. Richard’s assistance. But maybe they’ll see that what the “3rd World” communities referred to in the article could use are allies that instead of telling horror stories, listen to the needs of the community and do what is asked of them to help.
–Elise Swain, East Baltimore