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Old 12-10-2013, 08:56 AM
 
219 posts, read 352,130 times
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A few months ago the president asked the country to have an open and respectful conversation about race. The idea (I think) is that if we all understand each other better then we might end up being more respectful and compassionate. Baltimore City, with all its racial and economic diversity, is a great place for people to be engaging in this type of conversation. So here it goes.

I’m in my late 20’s, white, educated, well paid, and I live in Mt. Vernon with my girlfriend (who has a similar background to mine). My neighborhood is majority white as are my friends and family. I’ve had black and Asian roommates, I’ve lived in black neighborhoods in two cities before moving here (mostly to save money), and I walk to my office on the Westside of Downtown Baltimore everyday (also a black neighborhood for any of you out of towners). I was raised in a wealthy majority white neighborhood by blue collar parents (my father was a mechanic and my mother was a secretary) and I was taught not to judge people by the color of the skin but by the quality of their character.

Now that that’s out of the way here’s my perspective on race in Baltimore. We don’t relate to each other. Poor black folks growing up in Baltimore and professional transplants, the majority of which are white, share few of the same life experiences that sculpt us as adults. The non-majority black enclaves of the city (Canton, Fells Point, Fed Hill, Harbor East, Mt. Vernon, Charles Village, Roland Park, Hampden etc.) provide a pretty fun, interesting lifestyle for a lot of people. Many, but certainly not all, of the majority black neighborhoods on the other hand are seen as “toxic” environments with terrible infrastructure, housing, schools, and crime. Children raised in these places are less likely to be successful in life because of their exposure to these issues.

Now what responsibility do we have to fix that? If you believe that a healthy society should provide opportunity for people at all income levels and backgrounds (as I do) then we should be implementing policies that at minimum don’t work against historically beaten down populations. I’ve heard on this forum and in conversations around the city that “the system” is still set up to work against black people. Maryland, maybe more so than any other state, is hailed as being “progressive” in addressing issues related to poverty, racial discrimination, and education, and as a state has one of the largest percentages of black people living in the middle class (5 States With the Highest Black Median Income - Rolling Out). Yet that still doesn’t seem to be enough.

Public schools in the city (which serve a majority black student body) are terrible because a large portion of school funding comes from local property taxes. When most of your city's population is poor then you have less money for education which leads to lower learning outcomes which leads to having more poor people…. and the cycle continues. Crime in the city is largely a symptom of a lack of job opportunities. Too many poor people lack the training or connections to obtain a well-paying job… except for in a criminal field. So in the poor community people see that their only neighbors with money are criminals, and they decide they want money…and the cycle continues. Also once someone has a criminal record they're much less likely to find well paying work in a legal occupation. To add insult to injury black fathers, more than any other race, walk away from their child rearing responsibilities (although many times this is because they’re in jail- http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet), a situation that has been repeatedly shown to diminish a child’s potential.

The outcome from all this, in my experience, is that white people like living in Baltimore right up until they have to start dealing with poor black crime. Many poor black people seem annoyed by white people and look at us like we’re the ones holding them back. And so there’s tension.

Last edited by baltplanner; 12-10-2013 at 09:35 AM..
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:05 AM
 
219 posts, read 352,130 times
Reputation: 361
However, there is a black middle class in the region, most of which in my personal experience live outside the city. My office is at least 1/3rd black and only one of my black co-workers lives in the city. We all get along fine and I've never had a "racially tense" experience. Just a bunch of pleasant people with different backgrounds working together.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:17 AM
 
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
453 posts, read 547,307 times
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As someone planning a move to Baltimore in the coming year, I find this an interesting topic. After growing up in what was at the time a racially-mixed small town in rural upstate New York, I moved to Ohio where I've lived for most of my adult life. I've lived and worked in/around four of Ohio's major cities, and in a couple of cases have been the only white woman in my work environment. I've lived in majority-white neighborhoods and in mixed neighborhoods. I have no firm idea yet on where I am likely to be either living or working once I move; I only know that I have friends spread out over a fairly large area of Baltimore County and the surrounding area, which is a large factor in drawing me to the area.

I get along with all kinds of people, and I'm always curious about how diversity is handled in different places.
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Old 12-10-2013, 11:04 AM
 
219 posts, read 352,130 times
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I think Baltimore is becoming more appealing because the poor black neighborhoods are shrinking and the non-majority black neighborhoods are growing (I know that's a rough thing to say but its true). This will be great for both the city's finances and for the kids who are now growing up outside the city instead of in the 'hood.
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Old 12-10-2013, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Delray Beach
1,135 posts, read 1,514,736 times
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OP..your statement that "When most of your city's population is poor then you have less money for education which leads to lower learning outcomes which leads to having more poor people…. " is a commonly held belief that, IMO, is baseless.
Poor - as in low-functioning - students make bad schools, not the reverse.
Wash D.C. has some of the highest per capita education expenditures in the nation..and guess where their students stand?
"Money is the answer" is the mantra created and promoted by the teachers unions and they have done an outstanding job of conflating the pay scale of their members with the quality of educational outcomes.
Too bad it is not true.
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Old 12-10-2013, 11:42 AM
 
219 posts, read 352,130 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjarado View Post
OP..your statement that "When most of your city's population is poor then you have less money for education which leads to lower learning outcomes which leads to having more poor people…. " is a commonly held belief that, IMO, is baseless.
Poor - as in low-functioning - students make bad schools, not the reverse.
Wash D.C. has some of the highest per capita education expenditures in the nation..and guess where their students stand?
"Money is the answer" is the mantra created and promoted by the teachers unions and they have done an outstanding job of conflating the pay scale of their members with the quality of educational outcomes.
Too bad it is not true.
There's certainly a lot of bad parenting in the poor communities- which supports your argument. I think both issues are influential... I may have been overstating the importance of school budgets.

Last edited by baltplanner; 12-10-2013 at 12:09 PM..
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:01 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
35,233 posts, read 45,229,286 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjarado View Post
OP..your statement that "When most of your city's population is poor then you have less money for education which leads to lower learning outcomes which leads to having more poor people…. " is a commonly held belief that, IMO, is baseless.
Poor - as in low-functioning - students make bad schools, not the reverse.
Wash D.C. has some of the highest per capita education expenditures in the nation..and guess where their students stand?
"Money is the answer" is the mantra created and promoted by the teachers unions and they have done an outstanding job of conflating the pay scale of their members with the quality of educational outcomes.
Too bad it is not true.
MD doesn't have unionized, by definition, teachers. They're at association status. MD teachers also don't have the right to strike or any other job action you find in unionized states like PA or NY. The only things the associations may negotiate are salaries and working conditions. Class size, by definition, is not a working condition. Neither is access to materials. Nor sick leave. The only school employees in MD guaranteed by COMAR to receive sick leave are administrators.

What you may wish to do, in order to understand where a lot of money goes, is explore how much is spent (both in DC and Baltimore) on alternative placement for students who can not function in a regular school setting.

Back to the OP, no city is unlike Baltimore in the year 2013. The middle class has fled most of them, some decades ago, and the people who remain are generally very poor or upper middle to upper class professionals. Look at the Pittsburgh Forum and you'll see the same discussions. As you will in Cleveland.
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:23 PM
 
219 posts, read 352,130 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
Back to the OP, no city is unlike Baltimore in the year 2013. The middle class has fled most of them, some decades ago, and the people who remain are generally very poor or upper middle to upper class professionals. Look at the Pittsburgh Forum and you'll see the same discussions. As you will in Cleveland.
So the City of Baltimore is left with the poorest, most disadvantaged, least educated, and most crime prone locals in the metro area. Locals with the means and opportunity have largely fled Baltimore or are planning on doing so. There are some strong black neighborhoods, and I hope they stay that way and grow...but what can you do about the ones that are crumbling... they've been dragging this city's reputation down for awhile.

Also this situation doesn't give new people moving to the city a very good impression.... kind of like putting your worst foot forward. Cities like Boston, DC, and Miami all have large, poor, local born populations, but there are more "nice areas" than run-down areas, creating a more positive vibe which attracts business investment and new citizens.

Last edited by baltplanner; 12-10-2013 at 01:37 PM..
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Old 12-10-2013, 01:37 PM
 
Location: BMORE!
8,160 posts, read 6,799,359 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baltplanner View Post
I think Baltimore is becoming more appealing because the poor black neighborhoods are shrinking and the non-majority black neighborhoods are growing (I know that's a rough thing to say but its true). This will be great for both the city's finances and for the kids who are now growing up outside the city instead of in the 'hood.
As a black man, late 20s, I take no offense to any of your comments. What you said was completely true. However, many people have difficulties seeing things for what they are.

Last edited by KodeBlue; 12-10-2013 at 02:21 PM..
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Old 12-10-2013, 08:41 PM
 
74 posts, read 102,296 times
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the problem is alway the same as its alway been the have and have nots. Whites will never let the black community grow past the poor stage or let they become more educated and have the power. They will alway see us as a threat and divide and conquer to control us black on black crime is the white most important weapon against us
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