Baltimore government must be accountable to the people of Baltimore, not the rich!

The time is now to act for change. The wealthy persist in owning government and most of us citizens are unaware of how this results in continued hyper-segregation and race and class inequities. Locally we have a billionaire (Kevin Plank of Sagamore LLC) asking the city, state, and federal government to subsidize and guarantee his wealth-building campaign that would continue to segregate our city- a development aimed at constructing 14,000 housing units and amenities for those making more than $100,000 per year, Port Covington. Nationally we see this trend in private ownership of government (neoliberalism) in the form of Republican’s nomination of Donald Trump for presidency of the United States of America. The behavior of both these career capitalists relies on government to support their asset-accumulating trajectory in development. And “we the people” vote for who will be the “government” choosing to subsidize the wealthy. So when government fails to be accountable to the people of the city we have no recourse but to challenge it. It’s important that we recognize that in ignoring our responsibility in monitoring government spending we are nodding our heads in the way they currently spend our tax dollars. I suppose if we are okay with such corporate-welfare activities, then we can vote for Trump and let our city government pay for the infrastructure that would allow Sagamore LLC to gain more wealth. We have a say in all this if we decide we want to change business as usual.
Table. GovtsubsidyBaltimoreTable.footer

Sagamore’s request for government funding toward the development of Port Covington will be before the sub-committee this week. Councilman Carl Stokes will Chair a hearing on City Council Ordinance #16-0669 – the Port Covington Development District on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 5 p.m. The televised hearing will be held in the War Memorial Assembly Hall 1 st floor, 101 N. Gay Street (Lexington Street Entrance). Come ask our city government to explain why continuing to fund segregated developments is a more equitable and sustainable path? How is this type of government subsidy for higher income, professional class, and majority white people in 2016 in a geographic region (redlining) any different from the FHA and VA loans to white people in the 1950s (redlining)? Show them the data and then ask how doing the same thing again and again will result in a different outcome. Ask them how these subsidies might be used to assure affordable housing is built and assure integration and not continued segregation, Ask them to do a racial, social, health, and environmental impact assessment/analysis before they vote on any amount of subsidies for this and any other development in our city.

On Tuesday July 26 join advocates at Red Emma’s to discuss strategies for the July 27 hearing and actions leading up to the city council vote, and after.

Contact your city council representative and president (Bernard Jack Young) to request that the date for the full council vote be delayed until the public is sufficiently knowledgeable about how government subsidies are being used for a hyper-segregated development. There should be a clear agreement on local hiring, living-wage compensation, small business entrepreneurship and micro-loans for small businesses, affordable housing (rental and ownership) and a range of amenities affordable to all. If our public dollars are subsidizing a private project then the public must advise and monitor the private project. Past development projects heavily subsidized by the government, such as the current Johns Hopkins/EBDI/Casey/Forest City in East Baltimore, promised affordable housing and local hiring. Fifteen years later neither city or state representatives of the area will respond to questions about the outcomes of these promises. Neither EBDI or the Annie E. Casey Foundation will respond to such questions. None of these parties who negotiated the development terms will assess the benefit to Hopkins and its powerful partners and the benefit to local residents. After development agreements are voted on by the government, in Baltimore city, there is no recourse to assure accountability and transparency of promised outcomes. Previously set for August 28 the city council meeting to vote on TIFs for Port Covington was moved up to August 8. Question: “why the rush”?

Promise and Disappointment: Baltimore one year after the Uprising

See the original blog at Versobooks here

“All to say, last year’s uprising has created this space for my family to have this conversation. albeit painful, it’s also provided us with the choice to grow from these experiences that go way back beyond the uprising.” Daughter of a storeowner in West Baltimore, April 2016

From a meeting of Baltimore activists during the week of the curfew.

From a meeting of Baltimore activists during the week of the curfew.

It’s been one year since the uprising in Baltimore that followed the arrest, murder, and funeral of Freddie Gray. Mr. Gray died in police custody after a rough arrest and “rough ride”. It’s not the first time a rough ride — in which police leave a handcuffed or footcuffed person deliberately unsecured in the van, resulting in uncontrolled movement and potential injury — has accounted for the injury and death of a black man in Baltimore police custody. Following his arrest on April 12, 2015 and his death on April 19, peaceful protests occurred. After his funeral on April 27, residents of Sandtown-Winchester — Mr. Gray’s community — and others in West Baltimore affected by police brutality rose up in protest. Some protestors became violent, throwing bricks at windows, looting, and setting fire to property. The National Guard was called in, the city was placed under curfew, and tanks rolled around as if it was a war zone.

The tanks in Middle East Baltimore added to existing perceptions about the abandoned and boarded houses and businesses, the trash on the street and in the lots, the desolate look and feel at nighttime: “it’s like Beirut here.” After real estate segregation (both legal and illegal), redlining, deindustrialization, urban renewal, mass incarceration, and gentrification, Middle East Baltimore and other black sections of the city have been subject to disinvestment and left to survive on their own. While nearby universities and private institutions have exploited these same communities with the support of public dollars and public policy.

In the weeks following the night of violence, thousands rallied across the city to protest the legacy of this history. This uprising, and the eyes it focused on the death of yet another black body at the hands of the criminal justice system, brought attention to this long record of segregation and abandonment.

Many have compared it to the 1968 riots that followed Dr. King’s assassination, in which hundreds of businesses across the entire city were vandalized or looted to the tune of approximately $9 million. The people in power were afraid. The National Guard and state sheriffs patrolled the places in which wealth was concentrated or accumulated: Harbor East, Inner Harbor, Johns Hopkins Medical Campus, and the like. Those who sent them there feared that their holdings would be the next target if people felt compelled to correct years of unequal distribution of government favors. The anger of a few had overflowed after years of suppression and repeated injury, disrespect and neglect, and false promises. Indeed, rioting is the voice of those who have not been not listened to.

Like mosquitoes on horse dung, the media — local, national, and international — devoured the sensation of the unrest. Baltimore made news in Jamaica, Canada, Poland, China, Russia, Brazil, the UK, Australia, etc. We were world-famous, we were trending. One year later, what has changed? Did the government address the deeper causes underlying the unrest? That is: mass unemployment, underfunded schools, shuttered recreation centers, poor and inaccessible health care, “affordable housing” filled with rats, mold, and lead managed by slum landlords and speculators — unmonitored and un-reprimanded by government — food deserts, deteriorated infrastructure. Have any substantial changes been made to a criminal justice system that brings injury and death, repeatedly and disproportionately, to black bodies, like Mr. Gray? How have different communities in Baltimore contributed to the process of enacting necessary change at the local level since the killing of Mr. Gray?

Over the past 2 weeks, I spoke with thirty-six different people from various spaces and sectors in Baltimore, and asked: what sticks out to you since the uprising last year? Responses came from organizers on the ground, activists with and without non-profit organizations, academics, students, and residents in working-class black communities like Mr. Gray’s Sandtown-Winchester on the west side, and Middle East Baltimore and McElderry Park on the east side. 78 percent of responders were people of color, 58 percent male.

National Guard posted at Mondawmin Mall

National Guard posted at Mondawmin Mall

Neighborhoods

The overwhelming response from people in neglected neighborhoods (and from those who live elsewhere when asked about these neighborhoods), was that there has been little or no change. Some felt things were worse in these neighborhoods in regard to policing and drug trafficking and -use, unemployment, available stores, and safety:

Nothing changed, worse than before. The violence, the separation, people have become more selfish.

Worse, shooting still going on, problem in house, in the neighborhood, if you know what I mean…things happening right next door and nobody talking.

A shop owner in Sandtown-Winchester responded: “no change, drugs still here…some more foot patrol, since the CVS reopened.” We wondered together why the foot patrol started only after the CVS was reopened: “Who is being protected, corporations or residents”?

read more here

Does policing affect community fragmentation and cohesion?

This action research focused on the observations of local Baltimore residents in some of our more dis-invested and abandoned communities. Residents’ views on policing, community fragmentation, and paths of change are presented.

Enjoy!

Gomez.Policing.ComFrag.PH.Proofedcopy.

Title
Policing, Community Fragmentation, and Public Health: Observations from Baltimore

Journal of Urban Health, (), 1-14 J Urban Health
Reference as: DOI 10.1007/s11524-015-0022-9

Beloved revolution

Living this beloved revolution
Well on its way
Look around
Living community in the midst of violence

IMG_20151231_142849_hdr

The last 365 days?
Streets stained red
blood or chalk?
Some of both?

Children still play
chalk over the blood
reminding us of time
for this, this beloved revolution

Houses stand and fall vacant
Homes loose their bloodline
Bus lines leave their passengers
Black and brown bodies hack rides

Families fall apart
Tired of the war on drugs
And the drugs of war
Is there an end to the fight?

AISQUITH

Evolutive love
Resistance and love
Next 365 and counting
More chalk than blood?

Revolution of love
Demand love
Be love
Beloved revolution

web

#BlackMindsMatter: Baltimore Rising: Summoning the village

The Black Mental Health Alliance presents:
CALL TO ACTION PART 4

Please join the Black Mental Health Alliance (BMHA) for part 4 of its innovative model of community engagement and transformative planning designed to infuse mental health strategies and solutions into the current and longstanding challenges facing Baltimore City. This movement is an inclusive approach to community change guided by the wisdom of national thought leaders and local experts. The inclusion of community tours, prior to the presentation, with the involvement of people of all walks of life ensures that the projects and programs that arise are relevant and valuable to the community. With the important contribution of audience input, issue briefs will be developed and using the model described by Dr. Mindy Fullilove, the group will determine what the community is “for”, align resources, and through a creative, collaborative process, design a way to make a mark to foster the implementation of positive community change.
“Walk the city. Tell stories. Find the remarkable places.”
~Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove

Thursday, August 20, 2015
COMMUNITY WALK
2:00PM Coppin State Univ.
corner of North Ave. and Warwick

Friday, August 21, 2015
LECTURE, LOCAL PANEL DISCUSSION, Q&A
Time: 1:00PM to 4:00PM
Where: Coppin State University
Health and Human Services Bldg, Room 103
2500 West North Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21216

BMHA.BlackMindsMatter

Public health and community rebuilding, healing

Examining the effect of public health through the lens of environmental factors, mental health, and healing in our community: today on the Marc Steiner Show WEAA 88.9 FM in Baltimore. The host Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead and guests, Dr. Martha Wharton, Dr. Marisela Gomez, Dr. Rita Turner explore the interconnections of lead poisoning in our abandoned and low income communities of color, the reasons for these conditions and the other systematic causes of health, and the spiritual and body depletion. Solutions are presented.
Podcast here:

Courtesy Baltimore Neighborhood Indicator Alliance

Courtesy Baltimore Neighborhood Indicator Alliance

Resources pertaining to these topics:

July 21st, 2pm Eastern time. First in a series of webinars on “The Impact of Racism on the Health and Wellbeing of the Nation” with Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, and Camara P. Jones, MD, MPH, PhD APHA link

July 23rd, 6pm. Call to Action by Baltimore’s Black Mental Health Alliance “Baltimore Rising: Summoning the Village” Join Dr. Mindy Fullilove for causes, conditions, and solutions. Carter Memorial Church of God in Christ Church. 13 S. Poppleton. 21201 Email for information bhealthall@gmail.com
bmha

Office of Environmental Justice (of the Environmental Protection Agency) A site that provides information on what is happening in your community in regard environmental justice screening: Environmental Justice Screen; BLog reference

Resources on environmental pollution and health outcomes in neighborhoods:environment and health

Spiritual healing and social justice: Spirit and healing

flyer-image-500

Social, environmental, economic and health impact assessments are critical tools to determine the effect of rebuilding communities, on existing community.
Environmental impact assessment
Health Impact Assessments
Social Impact Assessment
Economic Impact Assessment

NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Initiative NAACP

The role of hyperprofit-making on expulsion of people from land. Expulsion and hyperprofits

Insights on Right View from Change makers and Liberation Seekers

Join the discussion on how we seek to maintain a “right view” as we move through our daily lives, seeking change for liberation from the a world of chaos

As organizers, healers, frontliners, educators, mothers, community leaders, artists and students how do we build and create sustainable change that honors our well being, our time and livelihood? How do we create and act with exactness and strategy that preserves our stamina and reinforces or affirms our cause? How do we act with accountability to our many communities seeing the intersections of where all our suffering begins and where our liberation lies? What tools and resources are available to help us find a sense of grounding and clarity in our work towards social transformation?

In many spiritual, religious and secular practices across the world the foundation of wakefulness or awareness is a core and principal dynamic present in the many ways one or many speak, act and live their lives. It is this awareness, this mindfulness that comprises a contemplative way of being.

For this community round table discussion we have asked seasoned organizers, religious teachers, and professors committed to telling the stories of the often silenced to share their spiritual practices that root their work and themselves in the effort to support their ability to see, hear, act, work and live with a clear mind, present heart and grounded sense of direction.

June 12, 2015
630 pm – 830 pm

Brooklyn Zen Center
505 Carroll Street, Suite 2A
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 701-1083

DSC_0030

DSC_0059

2nd Annual DC symposium on Equitable Development

 Please join us for the upcoming second annual symposium in DC:

Equitable Development in DC: Sustainability from below
Thursday March 26, 2015, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
The George Washington University
Marvin Center-Great Ballroom 800 21st NW, 3rd Floor

Keynote: Mindy Fullilove, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University; author of Root Shock: How tearing up cities hurt America and what we can do about it; Urban Alchemy: Restoring joy in America’s sort-out cities

Panelists:
! Maria del Carmen Arroyo, New York City Council
! Dominic Moulden, ONE DC
! Jacqueline Robarge, Power Inside
! Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP
! Jessica Gordon Nembhard, ONEDC
! Schyla Pondexter‐Moore,Empower DC
! Tommy Wells, District Dept of the Environment
! Zorayda Moreira‐Smith, Casa de Maryland

Equitable Dev flyer 3.26.15 event 3

Are we coming home to racial healing or greater separation?

A search for the terms ‘racism’, ‘race relations’, ‘racial discrimination’, ‘bigotry’ and ‘post-racial’ of 6 of the highest circulating newspapers in the US 7 years before Senator Barack Obama made his announcement to run for president and 7 years after that announcement offers some facts for reflection. In the latter 7 years there is a decrease in the number of times the first 4 terms appear either in the title or the content of these newspapers, the last term ‘post-racial’ has shown an increase-from 1 to 9. (1). This is a small glimpse of the silencing of racism as a real phenomena in our society, before and after the first African American took the highest office of the white house. This research shows that during the process of President Obama having to prove his birth in the US, not once did any of these periodicals link race or any permutation of this word to this act of racism. When these major print media collectively and systematically neglect racism and its devastating effect on those who are oppressed and those who perpetuate the systems that allow this to occur, we could interpret this as a society which is well on its way in healing from racism. Another interpretation is that the reality of society is told to us by those with power, and reflects their perception of society. The perception of society, of those with power, is significantly separate and different from the reality of people of color who continue to suffer from a history of racism daily. The perceptions of those with power, are gained through their learning and experience from the lens of white privilege. They have the privilege of deciding and living their perception of reality; one which neglects the history and consequences of a country birthed and grown in racism. But what else would we expect? We can only know what we have experienced and learned from those who gather around us. And here lies the challenges of transitioning from greater racial separation to racial healing: a learning of the experiences of non-white America by white America.

Acknowledging the past and the present racial tensions

The appearance of ‘post-racial’ in these periodicals also supports this sense of a healing reflecting again a lack of understanding of the reality of people of color in America. For those who perceive a ‘post-racial’ society in their daily lives, the shooting and killing of an African American teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO this past week may seem like an anomaly. Like the anomaly of Trayvon Martin’s murder and the anomaly of the more than 400 young black men killed by police yearly. This evidences the systematic violence against black men, institutionalized by our legal system. But this evidence of racial separation and oppression is evidenced not only in the legal system with police brutality, we see it within the judicial system with the recent removal of key protections of the voting rights acts, and the systematic challenges to affirmative actions. We see it in the political system by the leadership of the Republican party and their funders in attacking programs and polices of the current administration and the disrespect of President Obama by elected representatives not seen before with other presidents. The educational, housing, labor, and health institutions also perpetuate significant racial inequity evidenced by the gap between whites and people of color in: accessing and completing high school and higher education, living in disinvested and abandoned communities, home values, income and professional accomplishments, health care access and outcomes.
The presence of racial separation and tension of Ferguson, MO plays out in many segregated areas across the US. Such neighborhoods of majority low-income and African Americans or Latinos/as were created by a history of housing segregation supported by the government and private interests. While a majority of white America fled to white enclaves in the suburbs, banks and government discriminated against African Americans for house loans creating segregated communities of blight in the 1950‘s and 1960‘s and the ghettos of today. The disinvestment in infrastructure, schools, recreation, housing, security, sanitation, and health services in these neighborhoods assured continued inequity in health, income, education, and the skill-sets necessary for movement out of poverty. This history assured access to all resources for whites-low income and higher-while black people had to struggle against significant odds to access any resources or opportunity for mobility. (2)  Ferguson is an example of such a neighborhood, scorned by the majority white establishment whose privileged perceptions do not allow them the grace to understand this history of racial segregation and their benefit from it. The way one white colleague describes this is “white people are like the horses running down the track with covers over their eyes”.

Such white-powered privilege sows and reaps a perception that disallows the opportunity for understanding the history and experiences of those without white-skin privilege. It allows a clear separation between ‘us’ and ‘them’ which mandates security and ordering of society based on one group’s ideology and ‘truths’. This privileged existence for those with the power to remain unquestioned is what defines white supremacy. White supremacy is the visible and at times invisible structures built by and fueled by white-powered privileged individuals which formulates clear sets of rules and rights for white-skinned individuals who do not have to consider the other: life according to white America, reality through white America’s eyes. The killing of an African American teenager, unarmed with his hands in the air, running away from a white police officer pleading not to be shot affirms the privilege of white supremacy. And yet this witnessed example of violence, while a tragedy for this teenager, his family, his community and all those who may have been touched by him, is also an opportunity for us to confront the history of racial segregation and violence yet again and direct our energies toward racial healing. Will this be that drop that runs the bucket over and create a new landscape for healing and wholeness?

Acting for healing

Watering truths of our collective past to flourish so we can begin to heal the soil for something beautiful to grow is a step in creating a new landscape of racial healing and equity. Acknowledging the racist practices and policies which built our country, the present day outcome of such practices, and the steps necessary to move toward racial healing are conditions that can bring about truthful dialogue and action to repair its consequences. Delving into the roots of current racial and ethnic inequities-income, educational, housing, health- is a part of this unearthing of the causes and consequences of American racism. There is no indicator whereby African Americans and/or Native American Indians and/or Latinos/as do not lag behind white Americans, none. Such stark evidence is the result of white-powered institutions orchestrated by individuals either ignorant or blinded with their own self-interest to utilize such systems for their and their descendants benefit. The systematic exclusion of non-whites from these benefits are the chronic conditions we are facing today. Racial healing, mediated through truth and reconciliation meetings around the country, city by city, intending to understand and repair this past is a practical step to begin anew together and move forward. They must be consistent and address the acute and chronic issues we face today. The effect on whites and non-whites must be understood, benefit and suffering, with everyone at the table to share and listen. Goals must be set, parameters for evaluating process and outcomes implemented, follow-up to assess changes coordinated, and measurable indicators analyzed and reconfigured for changes necessary along with the funding necessary to assure this occurs. Indeed six meetings or six months of gatherings will not undo and begin the process for changing such systemic belief systems of ‘us’ and ‘them’; we must be committed to the years necessary to undo the more than 300 years of racial myth and reality embedded in our consciousness and hearts.

Johns Hopkins Hospital service workers protest for a livable wage, 2014

Johns Hopkins Hospital service workers protest for a livable wage, 2014

But this is only one step on our path of healing. We must place a priority, a political will, for racial equity. We must fund affordable housing and decrease homelessness; fund health centers to effectively serve our poor and racially disenfranchised; we must educate, in all schools whether in white or non-white neighborhoods, about the true history of racism and segregation so the future generations do not repeat their ancestors mistakes; we must remove ineffective people from offices who perpetuate racial division to benefit those historically in power; we must divest from banks and lenders like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase Bank and other members of the ‘wall street gang’ who prey on black and brown people to assure continued poverty of people and neighborhoods; we must past laws in every city that requires a living wage is paid to all and redistribute unfair incomes given to presidents and top officers of corporations to fund this, private or non-profit; we must tax the rich to fund the path out of poverty and racism which redistributes this wealth assembled through exploiting the poor and people of color; we must invest in our historically disinvested neighborhoods like Ferguson in Missouri and East Baltimore in Maryland which visually continue to affirm the deep racial divides which exist and which must be addressed from the ground up for racial healing to occur. In effect, we must protest the status quo and accepted perception perpetuated by a white-dominated America that the American dream is accessible to all. We must do so in the streets, the board rooms, the class rooms, the halls of justice and the ivory halls of institutions, the press rooms, the bathrooms, the clinics, the employment lines and the unemployment lines, the churches, temples, synagogues, in nursing homes and child-care centers, in solitude, in community, in silence and out loud, we must protest for peace and racial equity now.

The vitality of our communities, our country, is at stake until racial healing occurs. The term ‘superpower’ used by the current president and his predecessors is a farce until we act at home the way we preach abroad. Mainstream media perpetuates the myth of a harmonious USA living an American dream desired by other countries, alternative media provides us too often the grim reality of the effect of racist and classist division. While each provides a glimpse of someone’s reality, having all our realities acknowledged so we can choose and envision change based on truth is critical. The media must help us broadcast truth to the masses. Change must come at all levels and begin with us: what privileged white-determined perceptions do we have of our brothers and sisters of color, whether of color or white? We must challenge those with power to imagine and practice change by stretching their privileged belief systems. Our current administration must increase the chances that this American dream they broadcast abroad is obtained first, by the descendants of the first Americans who slaved and died for this country- the black and brown people of America-even while we invite other vulnerable and privileged  populations from abroad to reach for that dream with us.

Acutely, rebuilding communities such as Ferguson, rife with racial tension, with the voice and presence of community is a step toward healing any disaffected community. In a recent interview President Obama noted that the war-torn countries in the Middle East cannot be rebuilt with the US going in and telling them what is best for them; it must happen from within these countries, led by the affected people. He continued that anything else is simply temporary, an interim period that puts a lid on things, until destruction later erupts. This truth must be brought back home, in America, supported by the powers of this administration. Such wisdom can usher in a new way of community healing, one that respects the experience of those most impacted by the many band aids that placed lids on the racial tensions that exists across America. Ferguson, Missouri is an opportunity for us to heal these tensions and abandon the path of separation we have been on for too long. Acting today for racial healing continues the path of our ancestors and assures that future generations realize freedom from the tyranny of racial oppression.

1. Major news reporting on race*

2. State of America’s children

DSCF6387