Thursday, June 7, 2007

Decade of progress in Baltimore overshadowed by negative press

Thursday, June 7, 2007
I'm one of the few natives who will admit to it, but I like Baltimore. It's one of those cities that you have to be away from for a bit in order to fully appreciate it. It's quirky and fun. It's 45 minutes away from Washington, 90 minutes from Philadelphia and (on a good day on the Jersey Turnpike) is 2-2.5 hours from New York City. Also, it's cheaper than other cities in the region. Based on its location, the cache of the neighborhood and proximity to bars, restaurants and retail destinations, my $1150 apartment in Baltimore would easily cost $1600-1700 in Washington and well over $2K in NYC. My bank account appreciates that.

My hometown, however, can never catch a break. Baltimore has spent the last decade improving itself. On the low, it’s become a destination. It has attracted and retained major businesses (Under Armor, energy conglomerate Constellation Energy and financial heavyweight Legg Mason…just to name a few), it’s has added thousands of new hotel rooms including flags by Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and InterContinental, it has become a haven for urban renewal and development and most importantly, it effectively ended its 50-year long population exodus. That progress, however, is always overshadowed by negative reports.

The last three days have not been kind to Charm City. On Monday, the Baltimore Sun published this article announcing that in its most recent study, the FBI has declared Baltimore ‘The Second Deadliest City In America.” Three days later, the Baltimore Examiner released this article outlining the findings of a report conducted by the Baltimore Health Commission Baltimore is second to only Miami in the number of reported AIDS cases. Not a good look.

Does Baltimore has its faults? Of course, but so do all major American cities including Chicago (where in the last 12 months 27 kids have been killed in public schools), Philadelphia (where homicides are nearing 1980's type record numbers), Los Angeles (where gang violence is more prevalent than ever), St. Louis (which is experiencing a ridiculous spike in crime and always seems to get a pass because its a smaller city) and Phoenix (which is experiencing spikes in violence all over its metro area), but you just don’t hear about those stories. For some reason, Baltimore’s flaws always seem to become major, national news.

I’ve lived in Baltimore for most of my adult life and aside from someone using a Sharpie to deface the passenger side fender of my car while I took in a show at the Charles Theater, I’ve never been a victim of crime. My car has never been stolen, by house has never been burglarized, and I’ve never been robbed, shot at or threatened in anyway. When I drive home, I don’t drive through the set of ‘The Wire’ nor do I encounter anything like that on a daily basis. In fact, I have to make a point to go through those types of neighborhoods.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that as long as you’re doing the right thing (95% of all murders in Baltimore are committed by and against people who have a pre-existing relationship with the criminal justice system) and don’t go looking for trouble, you’ll be fine. Oh, and don’t be promiscuous. Know your status and that of everyone you get in bed with. Being a whore is never a good look and is most certainly not in Baltimore.


Kensilo said...

I feel ya. I travel to bmore on a weekly basis cause my grandma lives there. I see the new construction going up all over the place esp. bmore city. Overall I feel that baltimore is no more dangerous than any other thriving city in the US. Good post.

That Dude Right There said...

I had always heard the negative about Baltimore and "The Wire" didn't help either, but when I visited, I liked the city. I didn't like it as much as I liked Atlanta, but I liked it.LOL

yet another black guy said...

seems like the media is trying to make B-more the new Compton. i've been all up in the hood in LA and let me tell you, it's the same as any where. the bad parts are definitely bad, but not the whole city. like Brooklyn.

D-Bo said...

I would say that when I first moved to the area and made my first visit to see fam in Bmore I was a little nervous that it would look like, "The Wire" but as I drove through, yeah there are places that are run down just like in any other city, but overall I fell in love with the whole atmosphere of Charm City. Although I live in DC now, I would love to buy a nice home in Baltimore and settle down there. It's an up and coming city, and maybe one of the reasons it gets portrayed as bad is the minority populations that the city holds, but that's not surprising when it comes to the media and there portrayal of race, class, sex, and gender issues.

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