Today’s ride took me first to the bike shoppe for new front brakes from a couple of surly gentlemen (and don’t think I don’t know I need rear brakes–you just didn’t have anymore brakes to offer–I was not born yesterday even though I am wearing a skirt) that helpfully returned to me an ability to stop on command. After doing a little reading and thinking I headed downtown on my bike to visit the B&O Railroad Museum to learn a little bit about the Birthplace of American Railroading, which is apparently right here in Baltimore. I took lots of pictures and was going to blog about how many ways this city can tell the story of Henry “Box” Brown, what it felt like to stand inside a segregated Pullman car and wonder how the narrative could get away with saying that front part of the car was reserved for whites and rich people–no Blacks ever sat there, no matter how rich they might have been, let’s not cloud that up–or maybe how I learned that we have standard time instead of living by suns and seasons because railroads needed schedules, or that the telegraph was America’s First Internet, but then I made another stop on my way home. Transform Baltimore was hosting a speak out about the sorry state of public school infrastructure, and I’m new in town, so I figured it would be a good way to learn about what’s up in my community. (PS If you don’t know that you can just go to stuff like this and listen and learn a gazillion things, let me tell you–you can, and you should. But anyway, I digress.) I snapped this picture as just one of the many groups was speaking about schools without air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter, kids trying to learn and teachers trying to teach while shivering away. Schools with roofs that have been leaking since the last millennium, where kids had to dodge dozens of trash cans and buckets on the first day of school because it’s just that bad. Or the school where rats are playing tag in the cafeteria at lunch time. Windows won’t open or don’t close, water isn’t potable, bathrooms have no stalls, locker rooms are infested with mold, that patch job on the tile has been tripping kindergartners for seventeen years–the stories went on and on and on, and there were 2,000 more hung on that wall of yellow at the back of the room, and they were simply heartbreaking. Because it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s money, there’s resources–it’s a matter of how we prioritize. Why can we build two stadiums in downtown Baltimore, put on the flipping Grand Prix on the hopes that it’ll make money in a decade, but we can’t invest in children? It’s so shameful, this message that we send, that some lives just don’t count as much as other lives do. Because that’s what we’re saying, no matter how we try to pretty it up. Folks kept talking about how kids in Baltimore City deserve safe and welcoming places to learn and grow, but one gentleman pointed out that they don’t really “deserve” it; it’s their right. We have to do better. And some people have maybe figured out a way. I rode back up the hill to home, stopped in to hear Immanuel Wallerstein talk about world systems and revolution and had to leave, the air was getting so hot in there, if you know what I mean, but I took with me his point that these struggles are long, but we all best put our energy to pushing them in the right direction. I’m still trying to figure out what that will mean for me.
Whew. Fall in Baltimore. Breath. So many opportunities all in good time.
This post…brought a tear to my eye,thinking of the kids enduring those cnditions,thinking of my own two. Good post. As a guy (and my wife will attest,I’m sure),it takes a bit to do that,but those are kids…
A tear in my eye too. IT is a child’s right to be in a place they can prosper and grow.
Yes it is.