Monday, August 29, 2016

Cities And Countries Are Built, And Rebuilt, From The Ground Up

The Berlin Wall was not taken down by governments, or ideologies.  It was taken down by people, people who were tired of being separated by hatreds and misunderstandings cooked up by politicians they no longer trusted.  Today, thanks to their courage and resolve, Berlin is one city again.

Something similar needs to happen here in the United States, here in Maryland, here in the city of Baltimore.  Where walls between black and white citizens truly do exist, even if they are not always physical in nature  And where "leaders" in both communities are, in fact satisfied with the status quo, simply because of the way in which it allows them to obtain and remain in positions of "leadership."

Baltimore became a deeply segregated city decades ago, when the then-ruling white power structure zoned the city in such a way so as to keep African-Americans together, but separated from the economic opportunities that might have changed their lives for the better.  The zoning system thus created still rules the city with a heavy economic hand, despite decades of attempts at urban renewal in the Monumental City.

A large part of that stems from the fact that much of the money has gone into maintaining the prosperity of areas that were already in relatively strong shape.  The Inner Harbor is perhaps the most obvious example of that.  But at least part of it stems from the unwillingness of African-American leaders to open up their own communities to outside development, for fear that doing so would rob them of the minimum political power that they maintain from the gerrymandering effects of zoning.

Until Baltimoreans on both sides of the color divide can reach out and see themselves as city residents first, and peoples of differing colors second, there will never be any hope for Baltimore. And, one day, there may not be a Baltimore itself.

So, if you care about the city, and perhaps about the future of the state and the nation, do yourself and all of us a favor.  Pray for this family.  Pray that there will soon be many more like them.  And pray that, together, they will dismantle Baltimore's Berlin Walls.

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