EBDI, warriors in the war of gentrification: why we need trauma-informed redevelopment

Gentrification is a war on the people whose neighborhoods are being demolished. Like any other war it leaves the people and the place traumatized while the victors collect the spoils, in this case, a built environment and a socially engineered community that ignores and erases the history of those who were displaced. In East Baltimore, EBDI, or East Baltimore Development Inc. continues to be the vanguard warrior of gentrification of Middle East Baltimore. This pseudo public-private corporation initiated, led, and assured that their private developers collect the spoils of the war of gentrification in an 88-acre redevelopment while traumatizing the people of Middle East Baltimore. Twenty years later, the trauma continues.

In 2001 EBDI initiated the removal of more than 750 historic low-income Black families from Middle East Baltimore to make room for the Johns Hopkins Biotech Park. They began the process of gentrification by first demonizing the place and people to create a public story that the only way to remedy the situation was to displace people and take their land. This was the first phase and this structural violence caused a trauma to the people. Once the government was satisfied that there was sufficient publicity to justify using eminent domain to take people’s land, the city council representatives voted to throw their constituents under the ‘gentrification’ bus. This was the second phase of gentrification, continued structural violence, and continued the trauma to the people. This support of government then allowed the public subsidies to pour in: public support of private wealth growth, more structural violence against the marginalized. This was the third phase and continued the trauma. Of course, the big non-profits jumped in to subsidize as well, such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation and others, building greater power. This was the fourth phase and continued the trauma. With all this support, EBDI then attempted to displace historic residents with little or no benefit by offering them payment for their homes based on the current value, relocation payment based on 1970s’ value, demolition of houses adjacent to occupied houses, and no assistance in finding appropriate housing for displaced residents. Each of these violations occurred within the overall displacement process of residents and collects into phase five and continued the trauma.

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      WAR of GENTRIFICATION

Phase 1 – Demonization of community

Phase 2 – ‘ Justifiable’ government stealing of private land through policy ie. eminent domain

Phase 3 – Government subsidies for private development ie. TIF, CDBG

Phase 4 – Greater power of private and public partnerships

Phase 5 – Displacement/violation/exploitation of historic residents/businesses

Phase 6 – Failed promises of benefit to existing/historic community

Phase 7 – Rebuilt environment is unaffordable, attracts a different race/class, erasure of history

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Save Middle East Action Committee, SMEAC, a non-profit formed by residents threatened by EBDI and the Johns Hopkins Biotech Park, stepped in to organize residents to demand some form of equity in the process. They door-knocked block by block and found out what fellow-residents wanted. They convened meetings to hear from residents and they demanded meetings with the powerful stakeholders of EBDI, Johns Hopkins Institutuions, and the Foundations to discuss the needs of residents. SMEAC was one intervention, a protection against the violence of gentrification, that served to provide a healing from the overwhelming trauma that was growing. Simply by being present, SMEAC was enacting a trauma-informed process of redevelopment because it was led by community stakeholders. SMEAC convened residents together who listened to each other and acknowledged that this was difficult, this was painful, but together people’s strength would get them through it somehow.

Townhomes in the EBDI rebuilt 88-acre starting at $250,000, April 2021
Townhomes in the EBDI rebuilt 88-acre starting at $350,000, subsidized by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions for its staff/students. November 2019

Fast forward 20 years to 2021. While the project promised that by 2011 it would have rebuilt the community by offering more than 8,000 jobs to the city of Baltimore, this has yet to manifest. Try less than 2000 jobs and less than 40% of them to local residents in East Baltimore. Another trauma to the historic residents, another systemic violation, phase six of the gentrification war-predictions/promises made on unsubstantiated data to ‘justify’ public support. SMEAC fought for 1/3 low-income, 1/3 moderate rate, 1/3 market rate housing to be built in the redeveloped area- disregard for legislation is normal in war. We’re still waiting on the 1/3 affordable housing. Another structural violence, trauma to residents. We’re still waiting for the return of those who were displaced- supposedly 30% or greater suggests a successful redevelopment project (who decided that?). Yet another trauma and phase six of this war, assuring the intended social make-up of the rebuilt environment. While waiting for the 1/3 housing affordable to low income and working class people, we watched the completion of the $350,000 townhomes at the end of 2019.

Mural in Middle East Baltimore erases history of the neighborhood in rush to rename/rebrand neighborhood in social engineering of rebuilt community/ Biddle/Washington August 2021

The war of gentrification manifests not only in phases one – six outlined above. It continues through the resultant built environment with its shiny new buildings and manicured landscape. It manifests in the unaffordable housing and amenities offered in these structures which cater to a particular class of people: high cost amenities like Starbucks, fusion cuisine, and a pharmacy with unaffordable items. This is the seventh phase of the war and another trauma as it continues the erasure of historic residents in the rebuilt environment. Residents within a block of the demarcated 88-acre of EBDI’s war-zone, still walk down to the 2500+ blocks of Monument street to shop for affordable food and amenities and trek to the pharmacy on North avenue. The most recent erasure is the mural sponsored by EBDI in the war-zone to mark the history of the area, a sanitized one. No image of SMEAC or its leaders who fought to assure some level of respect and equity was afforded to residents and businesses being displaced, of Ms. Lucille Gorham who named the community ‘Middle East Baltimore’ in the 1970s, a life-long activist for affordable housing whose family was displaced from the home she moved into from Middle East during the EBDI-war, or the many church leaders who marked the different corners with a space for folks to remember hope and spirit.

SMEAC logo.

Historic residents continue to distrust EBDI and the Johns Hopkins Institutions, with little faith that this public-private power-house understands how traumatizing the rebuilt 88-acre has been and continues to be, to those who came back and to those who didn’t or couldn’t’ (because they died).

Subsidized housing at Merton Courts in East Baltimore renovated to mixed-income housing May 2021

Until the trauma suffered from the uprooted residents of Middle East Baltimore has been acknowledged, there cannot be healing. The US is a country that was built on atrocities, structural violence, that resulted in immense trauma in the pursuit of land, power, wealth. This trauma still has not been acknowledge, nor healed. Locally and nationally, redevelopment continues in this same way today, uprooting people from their homes and neighborhoods, leaving trauma in the war for wealth and power. The warriors who lead the devastation can not be the ones who lead the path of healing this trauma because they cannot see beyond their own goals and fabricated scripts and talking points. It will require collectives, inclusive and led by resident stakeholders, that acknowledge and begin the healing path of the trauma of gentrification’s war on land and people. Meanwhile, we can learn from what happened and continues to happen in Middle East Baltimore and urgently enact alternative methods of redevelopment. We must take into account the history of serial forced displacement since the displacement of indigenous peoples in the 1600s to current-day projects like EBDI and the displacement of low income Black people. Redevelopment must be equitable and to do so, it must be trauma-informed so we do not continue to cause harm and we heal the existing trauma.

Demolition of Perkins Homes in East Baltimore currently underway, to make room for mixed-income housing without one-for-one replacement of affordable housing. July 2021

Sure would be nice if we could model this right here in Middle East Baltimore and East Baltimore, given all the non-trauma-informed redevelopment currently underway at Perkins-Somerset-Oldtown and Lester Merton Courts. [A future blog will consider how this trauma of continued displacement continues to affect residents over the long term.]

Celebrating Juneteenth: inward and outward

Many folks are asking ‘how do we celebrate Juneteenth’ in a way that commemorates the history of our ancestors and all those who participated in freedom from enslavement for Black people.

There are many ways: we can start with ourselves, getting to know who we are so when we show up, we know what we bring into a space. Knowing ourselves is a life journey. In this journey of self-discovery, we find out what needs healing, what needs maintaining and elaborated. We find our joys and know how to bring joy to others and we find our suffering and know how to help others with theirs. We help our siblings with their trauma from today and the past. By knowing how to heal our own pain from all forms of forced marginalization-be it racial, class, gender, sexual, health- we bring our healed self forward and share our experiences. We celebrate our continuation of the ancestors in our continued liberation

The kind of ‘self’ we are and becoming, when reflected on mindfully, can already be an outward offering in celebration of Juneteenth. We can also work with our collectives on different campaigns around justice and healing. This includes making calls, going to meetings, showing up for rallies and legislative sessions/public hearings, contributing ideas. All this done in the spirit of love of equity and resistance of injustices continues the celebration of Juneteenth. We can also act individually in writing letters to editors, create blog sites that address issues of justice and healing, contribute time and resources to different groups working on issues of love and justice. And wherever we step, when we step in awareness and choose our thoughts of love and justice, we are showing up in celebration of Freedom.

Village of Love and Resistance – VOLAR

For a specific contribution, here’s a Funding Campaign by Village of Love and Resistance-VOLAR. As a co-founder of VOLAR, I know we are about freedom and healing justice. We are celebrating Juneteenth by inviting folks in to help us raise money for renovation of one of our recently acquired buildings. The less money we borrow to renovate, the more equity we will have to return money to our community investors (we are using the buildings to establish a Community Investment Trust for our low-income neighbors to become investors in land, to co-own and be decision-makers in their neighborhood!)

VOLAR GoFundMe Campaign – Celebrating Freedom Forward and Juneteenth

Share the link with your networks and help VOLAR reclaim land, heal, and build a powerful base of organized people in Baltimore.

Celebrating Juneteenth: emancipating ourselves from mental enslavement

Come celebrate this major day of freedom for African Americans in the US. What better way to do so than to take the time to take care of yourself, in community. We remember the ancestors that never gave up faith in the truth of the opportunity for freedom. We’ll come together to practice the art of mindfulness, for the emancipation of our mind and body. Kaira Jewel and I look forward to welcoming all those who identify as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color. We will celebrate the freedom of being in our beautiful ‘skin’ and the obstacles that might still enslave us based on the same. Join us on this wise, healing, and joyful path of liberation!

Registration website: https://www.garrisoninstitute.org/event/virtual-retreat-emancipating-ourselves-from-mental-enslavement-a-bipoc-day-of-mindfulness/

Virtual Retreat: Emancipating Ourselves from Mental Enslavement: A BIPOC Day of Mindfulness

June 19, 2021, 10 AM – 3:30 PM ET (There will be a 60 min off-line break for lunch)

Program Description:
These times are challenging for all, especially for our BIPOC community. This daylong gathering will help us to pause and take time to remember that our minds and bodies hold these challenges and that they can be released. We can emancipate ourselves.

We come together in tenderness, community, and cultivating peace to look deeply into the ways we can free ourselves of painful and habitual patterns of reacting that limit our freedom.

The day will consist of meditation, honoring our ancestors, instruction, times for deep and healing rest, creative mindful movement, sharing in small groups and building community.


Registration Website: https://www.garrisoninstitute.org/event/virtual-retreat-emancipating-ourselves-from-mental-enslavement-a-bipoc-day-of-mindfulness/

Facebook: facebook.com/garrisoninstitute

Twitter: @GarrisonInst

Instagram: @GarrisonInstitute

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-garrison-institute

What it means to stay woke for racial justice for George Floyd

Staying woke to racial justice became a “thing” over the past few years, especially after the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015 and continued [police] violence against Black bodies captured on video. In the past 12 months it became a “super thing” because of the killing of George Floyd and continued violence against Black bodies. Today, May 25 2021, is the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s killing. It’s a day of reckoning of whether we will continue to wake up for racial justice for Mr. Floyd, Mr. Gray, Ms. Jones, Ms.Bland and the known and unknown others who have been unjustly persecuted and killed with the support of the police state.

This is the intention that we must carry: I will stay woke for racial justice.

We must stay woke even while the #Black Lives Matter rhetoric from the colonized spaces continue to crack open and reveal the superficial actions of White Supremacy over the past year. We must stay woke even while we’re “returning to normal” [after 14 months of a pandemic that claimed almost 3.5 million lives worldwide].

In these past 14 months some reflected on the value of Black lives because of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on those who are working poor, non-white, and essential workers. Almost 3 months into this pandemic we saw George Floyd’s body being disposed of callously, collectively. Because we were already vulnerable and unrooted from our normally distracted and sleepwalking minds, we paused, and the images of Black death and Black protest made an impression. There were sufficient conditions at play in our society to allow a collective engagement with the history of violence against Black people. We caught a glimpse, an opening, into an America that was reckoning with its nursemaid of White Supremacy. In some corners it seemed the nursemaid was being asked: “why did you rear me this way?” Eyes were “seeing” the truth of our inhumanity against each other, against the “other”, against all that was not white.

On the anniversary of George Floyd’s killing and 14 months into a pandemic, almost 50% of the US has been vaccinated against COVID19-the virus causing the pandemic. And while this may protect us from being infected with the virus while we resume our normal busy way of being in the world, it also supports us falling back to sleep to racial justice. During the pandemic many of us had to stop our normal lives and quarantine, we slowed down. And in this pause we had more time to be kind to ourselves and to see ourselves in others. We began to wake up to what was in front of us-the birdsong and the less polluted air; and the racial violence against Black and Brown bodies. And many joined the protest against white supremacy. The vaccine may allow us to resume our busy lives. But this business numbs us to seeing each other as ourselves. The vaccine in effect also immunizes us against feeling kindness and compassion for ourselves and for others, immunizes us against being woke.

We have been vaccinated against our heart continuing to open. Our busy lives inhibit the maturation of the heart actions of our humanity. As we resume our fast-paced lives we also resume our selfishness, our greed and want to stop this ‘nonsense’ of racial equity and seeing our interconnection with each other. In fact, in spaces of power we think that we should return to business as usual- the distracted minds and closed hearts nourished by moving too fast and consuming so much we could not see each ourselves in each other.

This is a call out to all those whose heart broke open during these past 12 months: don’t close it back up. Keep feeling that trauma of racism and ignorance as this forces us to find ways to heal and understand our collective history of racial injustices and its legacy, so we can recover ourselves. This call out is to all of us who, over the past 12-14 months, have managed to look at the person on the street begging for support and asked: why?

Don’t go back to sleep. The right evolution of our humanity depends on our collective awakening. Stay woke, whatever it takes.

Why do we remember Black History?

It’s Black History month…2021. We bring forward and remember a little longer the history of Black Americans whose blood, sweat, and tears and unrewarded labor made America the thriving social and economic power it is today. We might remember the creative genius of artists, inventors, philosophers, peace activists, doctors, lawyers, and educators and many more who came before us and on whose shoulders we sit and stand.

Samuel Lind, Lioza Puerto Rico

It’s especially poignant this year, after the past years of a growing white nationalist movement. A movement whose purpose is to do the exact opposite of what this month celebrates. We take even greater care in inviting in these ancestors of Black liberation, to guide us forward. Our ancestors struggled and lived and loved bravely and died through different movements of white supremacy and nationalism. And here we are today, bolder, stronger, and more beautiful for their struggles and sacrifices.

This sacredness and power of Black ancestors is something we celebrate collectively. Remembering them brings them back in us, and around us.

So let us remember. With bright eyes, with pride, with joy, compassion, and courage.

We are of strong roots, not just in the Americas, but from across the world. We who see and acknowledge ourselves in our ancestors and our ancestors in us (embodied presence), continue them into the future. This continuation is the celebration of Black history, every day, all day.

More Chaos or Beloved Community?

The agony of the poor enriches the rich. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Billionaires add 1 trillion to net worth during pandemic as their workers struggle. The Guardian

Yes, things could continue to deteriorate here in the US after the past four years, especially the last two weeks: white nationalists’ insurrection at the Capitol in DC and the second impeachment of the current president, Donald Trump. And they can continue to get better-after the incredible grassroots organizing, local leadership representing in Georgia, and resultant win of two Senate seats. We determine where we will go from here-more chaos or Beloved Community.

It’s the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, January 15, and the country pays tribute by remembering and reflecting on his leadership in the struggle for justice. His last book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” reads like it was written for these times. In that book Dr. King reminds the country that in order to heal white America must “reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance.” Like I said, it could have been written on January 6 2021.

The sad injustice of our situation is the collective ignorance that remains in white America, feeding white supremacy. On this year’s-2021- reflection of Dr. King, we could decide that we will finally begin to live into what is needed for change toward racial equity, class justice, and the end to militarism (and its broad effect on policing against Black and brown people). Individually and collectively we do have a choice if we will continue with chaos and injustice or build the elements of Beloved Community.

Dr. King’s vision of Beloved Community stated in a speech in 1957:“the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”

We have choice. We can continue the chaos by allowing: the rich to feed off the agony of the poor, the white supremacist system to feed off and entrench the inequity of Black, Indigenous and other people of color, the wealth of the country to feed the machines of war against the same nationally and internationally. Or we can organize for justice and build Beloved Community and do what we did in Georgia two weeks ago. We can do what Dr. King and the larger collective did during the Black Civil Rights movement to win the Montgomery bus boycott, desegregate schools, win the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. We can stand on their shoulders and the shoulders of the countless people who fought for the right for all people to vote, to be treated humanely and to live into their highest potential. We could love all the people.

We can live into justice by coming from a place of love for each other. This is not a love for the behaviors of hatred and violence against us. We can fight for justice with love for the humanity that still exists in all of us. Because it is the lack of inhumanity that drives the heart of someone to act out inhumanely by violating the rights of another: because their skin tone is darker than their own. Or because they love someone of the same gender, or because they are female embodied, or were born in another country. This ability to ‘other’ another person and justify violence against them comes from the chaos we carry inside ourselves. It needs to start inside our own hearts, to calm the chaos and heal the separation inside. This will allow us the spaciousness to know injustice and correct it, moving toward building Beloved Community.

What will you do in 2021 to honor Dr. King? Continue chaos or build Beloved Community? You decide!

The Illness of White Supremacy

The conduct of a sitting president of the US, which clearly demonstrates a sickness inhibiting them from making clear decisions and carrying out the duties of the office, should be addressed. The current President, Donald Trump, is not capable of being the commander and chief. He is suffering from the illness, the disease, of white supremacy.

Signs and Symptoms

This illness of white supremacy expresses itself with symptoms and signs unlike any other illness: violence in every form. These symptoms include thinking, speech, and actions of hatred of / and superiority over Black or African-descendant people, Indigenous people, and other people of color. This hatred and superiority takes the form of segregating from, violating, killing, treating inhumanely, marginalizing Blackness and their sisters and brothers.  

Cause

Trump’s disease of white supremacy has a cause; or as we say in science and medicine, a pathology. One of the causes or abnormal features leading to this disease is ignorance of why this doctrine of ‘white supremacy’ was instigated and how it settled into the body, feelings, perceptions, mind, and consciousness of the US populations since, becoming a disease. The existing different racial groups, socially constructed from cultural mannerisms, physical features, and skin tone, existed in the 17th century and the early days of colonization of Turtle Island by then white Europeans. This included the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island-now called the United States of America-, the enslaved African-descendant people stolen from Africa and brought by ship, and the white settler European colonists. The land-holding colonists perpetuated a doctrine of white superiority to assure that land-less and white indentured servants did not associate and build loving relationships with African-descendant and Indigenous peoples. This was not just a random separation into different groups. This was an extractive and exploitive separation that grew out of greed, aversion, and the delusion that feeds the first two. The white colonial land holders in the 17th century had already brought enslaved Africans to the new colony of Britain, Turtle Island, to exploit their labor.

Turtle Island / North America Wkipedia

As well they had already exploited the land and were systematically decimating the native indigenous peoples. But this was not enough because they were driven by greed for more wealth and power, and the fear of loosing existing power. Establishing the hierarchy of whiteness at the top and African-descendant people at the bottom would assure that they maintained the power over land and that non-land-owning whites would distinguish themselves from Black and Indigenous peoples, with or without land-establishing a ‘so-called’ superior race. This cause or pathology of white supremacy, also imprinted into the phenotype or behavior and characteristics of white people (as displayed in the symptoms and signs described above). This belief, in the supremacy of whiteness, led to legally condoned racialized violence, then and now. So ingrained was this belief in the superiority of whiteness in the mind and hearts of white supremacists that even after the Civil War ended, white southerners and states with enslaved African-descendant people would not concede equality between whites and Blacks (Crenshaw). Since then, every display of social or political gain by Black people has been violently attacked by white supremacists, with the perception that it fulfills the accepted hierarchy of the superiority of whiteness. Today this is evident by the following statement by a white supremacist at the insurrection at the Capitol two days ago: “This is not America,” a woman said to a small group, her voice shaking. “They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.” (The Nation)

INDOCTRINATION of WHITE SUPREMACY

Co-occurrence of two severe illness

Donald Trump suffers from the disease of white supremacy. And like some with this disease, he also has another illness: that of a mental illness. This assessment of his mental state as being unstable and likely to worsen during times of conflict and challenge was predicted by several renowned mental health professionals. More recently they assessed that he was “mentally unfit to qualify for the presidency or candidacy for reelection”. It was clear Trump was ill with white supremacy before he was elected president of the US. His unstable mental state was also assessed at that time. With the stress of the presidency, both conditions worsened. The co-occurrence of white supremacy and an unstable mental state has clearly exacerbated each condition. The result of these two illnesses affecting each other: a sitting president who incited people to act violently against the authority of the country on January 6th  2021. He willfully encouraged people to act with violence to under-mind the authority of the country that would remove him from office on January 20th 2021: sedition. Throughout his tenure as president of the US, Trump has consistently renewed the signs and symptoms of collective nationalist white supremacists in the US. Because white supremacy eventually leads to greater deterioration of mental status, and vice versa, it was inevitable that we would reach the outcomes we have been experiencing these past months and years of a growing nationalist movement of white supremacy illness.

Treatment or Remedy

The far-reaching effect of Trump’s white supremacy is continued exploitation and oppression of Black and Brown people and anyone who does not agree with his views. The first step in Trump’s treatment plan is to immediately remediate this far-reaching effect: removal from office. This first step in his treatment will have a beneficial impact by beginning to slow down his deterioration. Remove the stressors that are escalating the illnesses. It will also begin to treat the effect his behaviors have had on the population of white nationalists. It will especially benefit his followers- those white supremacists who were incited to violence two days ago. By treating the president for white supremacy we can hope to begin to stabilize others with this same illness. Removal from office is just the beginning. It will require more to heal all the harm that has been caused, to help those whose mental state became affected by white supremacy. This hatred and fear has spread across and beyond the US and can slowly begin to recede.

The spreading of the disease of white supremacy and mental illness

The second step is to treat the illness of white supremacy, in Trump and in his followers. This will require a deep dive into re-learning the history of the United States. This imprint of racism and its many effects is deep, generational. Yes it is a trauma. These white people have been traumatized to believe that they can harden their hearts against Black and Brown people. There is generational damage to their hearts and minds that will require time to undo. As the intellectual and emotional understanding begins to sink in, the systematic effect of white supremacy on all the structures of the United States will require change. Slowly, a movement toward justice for all people, and not some people will become urgent so that what happened at the insurrection can never be repeated: differential expectations of / and treatment toward white insurrectors and Black people protesting undue police violence. Remediating the harmful effect of white supremacy on all affected populations is a necessary step.

Path to recovery

The path to recovery is long and changing, more than 400 years in the US. We can start this journey of healing by first acknowledging the illness of white supremacy. And the state of mind that nourishes the illness of white supremacy and vice versa.

This sickness of white supremacy is not new. The January 6th 2021 insurrection incited by the sitting president of the United States of America marks us all. Because he is still sitting, we are complicit. What will you do to address this? Non-action is an action.

The path of equitable rebuilding- healing and recovery awaits us

Contact your federal, state, and local government representative and let them know how you believe they should represent you: remove Donald Trump as president. Talk about this with someone; share the clarity about sedition. Engage with calm and clarity and learn the facts so you can share the facts. Practice calming exercises that can keep our hearts open and mind clear and purposed toward justice and peace. Healing the illness of white supremacy requires healing not only the signs and symptoms of violence, but the root cause of privileged non-understanding, fragmented hearts, fear, wrong perceptions and the harm resulting from these on Black and Brown populations.

After the storm: recovery and recollection

I arrived in New Orleans Louisiana (NOLA) on Tuesday not knowing a hurricane was also heading here. Maybe it was because it was the seventh hurricane of this year and people were tired of thinking about hurricanes. I kept hearing the words ‘hurricane fatigue’ after arriving. That Tuesday evening the bird sanctuary park closed early due to the pending storm. Wednesday morning the skies were cloudy and dark clouds started in. I was visiting another park and we were invited to leave: the loudspeakers blared ‘Go home’. Businesses closed early that day, readying for Hurricane Zeta. Then came the storm Wednesday. At first 50-60 mph winds…then increasing and every 60 seconds or so there was the ‘roadrunner’ wind that seemed to come quick and leave as quickly. I think these were the 90-100 mph winds. And then it all passed. Surveying the damage to my mother’s house that night we were lucky, gutters, a few pieces of siding, a wire down, a small leak in the roof. Power out in the entire area and across Louisiana in areas that were battered by the wind. The neighbors had a large tree fall on their house. The following day as I drove around the area the damage was great: trees down, wires and electrical poles down, roads closed, all traffic lights out, and businesses closed.

I felt sad for NOLA when seeing the businesses closed. In the midst of an economic downturn another 4 -6 days of business closure was not helping the already depressed economy.

This ‘storm fatigue’ of the people of Louisiana is the same fatigue that we’re all experiencing collectively right now in the US. We are fatigued. The already uneven US economy attacked by a pandemic that disproportionately affected the already marginalized and under-resourced populations of low income and Black and brown folks. The vicious lies propagated by the highest ‘leadership’ of the country resulting in greater lost of lives and trust in our fellow human beings. This energy of separation have watered the seeds of connection as well the seeds of separation in some resulting in acts we can’t recognize as something of us. For many there is great fatigue and forgetting of our innate goodness and love.

And yet, the day after the hurricane, the skies were blue, the birds were soaring, the sun was shining and the temperature was cool. The sea gulls are sturdy birds and I watched them circle around wondering if they ever get fatigued. They probably do and also keep moving.

The clean up after Zeta will take time. Five days out many of the traffic lights are functioning again and some of the businesses have re-opened. People were out fishing and crabbing by Saturday!

And so will the clean up after the election take some time. It will take time for us to trust each other again. We’ve been hurt by a government that showed us exactly what they thought of us who are not white, not rich, not ‘them’. We’ve been hurt by the wealthy who have been aided by government and who aids government to continue its exploitation of our humanity for their continued wealth mongering. And our respect of mother earth…we must learn. Still it is the trust in our own humanity, to raise up in us what is just and what is good. And from this awakening we can recollect our hearts to engage outward toward a collective recovery.

The storms are great and yet the sun does rise and the moon beams each day and night, somewhere. And we are again nurtured by their light as we step forward knowing we are already soaring in our individual and collective recovery. And we celebrate the joy as we remember the big and little things that are always there for us, in the midst of the storm and the recovery.

Johns Hopkins conglomerate: receives most public subsidy, provides little public benefit

The optician at a community eye clinic decided I needed further testing so referred me for an appointment with the Wilmer Eye Clinic at the Johns Hopkins conglomerate. The assistant called and gave them the information and then after some back and forth, hung up, looked at me and shook her head in disbelief. “After all that….” she said. What she meant was that after giving them all my information, confirming that it was Veterans Insurance earlier in the conversation, the person on the other end of the line later said Hopkins does not accept my Veterans Insurance. After some of the usual comments like: ‘good enough to go to war but not to get health care’, ‘yes I went to medical school, and graduate school, and residency at Hopkins blah blah blah’ she apologized. As if she was the one representing the institution and its oppressive policies.

I walked to the car, mindful of my steps, breathing in the air, fresh. Thinking, what if I was in northern California, no fresh air. There was no disbelief. Just acknowledgment that yet again, capitalism exploits those with decreased income. And who has the highest risk of decreased income and wealth? Black people. Brown People. Period!

This time there was little anger. Just acceptance that large capitalist institutions like the Johns Hopkins conglomerate discriminates against people with decreased income.  And a continued resignation to do something about it. My activism and research over the last 30 years has focused on the role of the Johns Hopkins conglomerate and its continued expansion through the taking of land from low income Black people in East Baltimore Maryland: displacement and gentrification. Why would I be surprised that they also discriminate in provision of health care? I knew this already. And now I get to be another data point.

There is no legal requirement that a hospital system which receives millions of dollars in public support over the years for research and continued land acquisition, must serve its community.

Public funding supports the institution in conducting research aimed at discovering cures for diseases once perceived as incurable. But the same hospital and research institution has no obligation to provide these cures, discovered through public funding, to a veteran living in their neighborhood.

In 2016, Johns Hopkins University received the largest amount of dollars ($2.10 billion) from the federal government for research and development. That year 86% of their total expenditure for research and development ($2.43 billion) came from these federal dollars. The conclusion: 86% of the benefit from their research should be returned to the public.

This is not about me. This is about people who, because of their income and the color of their skin, continue to be treated as second class citizens. Take a peek inside a Veterans Administration hospital to get a sense of who receives care there and use Veterans insurance for care outside of the hospital. For those of us who cannot afford additional health insurance, this is it!

Hopkins is not the only institution that discriminates against veterans. But it is one of the institutions which receives the largest subsidies from the government. And for this reason alone, it has an obligation to provide greater benefit to the public. Shame on Johns Hopkins conglomerate. And shame on the federal government for not holding subsidized universities and hospitals to a higher standard of accountability to the public.

The government built the systems that continue the exploitation of low income Black and brown bodies by ignoring the racist and classist behaviors in health care delivery that has contributed to health disparities. Racial and class disparities exist in all sectors, including the criminal justice system. Like the criminal justice system, hospitals and universities will continue to oppress and cause harm until held accountable. The government must hold itself accountable, or we the people will.

Organize, Organize, Organize…remember your freedom and sovereignty inside and out, and vote out the corrupt politicians! Register someone to vote who is not yet registered.

Fort McHenry Baltimore MD https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x89c80398209f6ccf%3A0xea4d214834781212!3m1!7e115!4shttps

ACLU protests city taxes supporting Port Covington and continued white wealth expansion in the midst of persistent financial racism in Black communities in Baltimore

Today Baltimore city’s Board of Estimate is deciding on a bond to support the controversial Port Covington Project owned by billionaire Kevin Plank of Under Armour. ACLU and other groups are protesting this continued white wealth expansion in Baltimore in the midst of continued financial racism-historic and persistent underfunding of Black communities. Today Wednesday June 17, 9am, the hearing at City Council will decide if City tax bonds should support this infrastructure development at Port Covington. Baltimore’s tax dollars would be part of the $660 million public support from the city for this development voted on in 2016. At that time the Port Covington plan did not show a racial equity analysis benefiting Baltimore’s historically disenfranchised Black communities. In the midst of the economic downturn from the COVID19 pandemic, public support of this gentrification project is even more questionable as nationwide calls for racial justice continue.

The pandemic has further revealed how racially fragmented and segregated our nation is, especially in majority Black cities like Baltimore. Because of the structural violence of segregation and underfunding of the infrastructure that supports these communities, health and economic disparity is severe. The pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Brown and poor communities resulting in more cases and deaths than white and middle class communities. Public funding to address the necessary resources and infrastructure is necessary to begin to change this legacy of slavery, redlining, urban renewal, gentrification and mass incarceration that has left Black and communities of color with greater levels of unemployment, abandoned housing, health and income disparities.

https://www.mariselabgomez.com/port-covington-or-port-covet-a-ton/

This structural violence perpetuated through policies that continued and continues to segregate and under-resource Black and poor communities can be changed in re-investment into existing communities. The Port Covington Project targets a majority white and well-off population through its planned housing and amenities. Allocation of Baltimore city tax dollars can change this old game by directing funds for more even development, instead of continued gentrification.

Today’s Board of Estimates hearing: June 17 Wednesday at 9AM: Members of the public can call in to listen live at 1-408-418-9388 (Access code: 711 183 482) and/or stream it live using the following link: http://charmtvbaltimore.com/watch-live.

The meetings will be live on CharmTV (Channel 25) as normal.

City Council notice