Sense of Place: Baltimore

Baltimore Maryland is a very complicated place to grow up in. Where I live in downtown Baltimore Is very divided, the city is subdivided by neighborhood. You can be walking along a street and watch the neighborhoods change, see the difference in culture and danger level as you walk into a new neighborhood. Neighborhoods in Baltimore are mainly divided by race and economic status. A common phrase is that a neighborhood can flip within a block.This division made it really hard to have a natural love for my city. I grew up always having my guard up, always ready to fight or run. This is what I call my city instincts, things like never walking around with two ear buds in, having your head on a swivel and always being able to run are all within this definition.  

Baltimore is a dangerous city for many. We have one of the highest homicide rates in the country and no matter how compartmentalized it is in specific neighborhoods; the feeling of danger radiates across the city. I grew up knowing about the danger, knowing about the things that were happening less than a mile away from me. There was no room for polite vales or living in blissful ignorance when people are getting shot around the corner from your house.  

My relationship with Baltimore has gone in waves. Waves of love and of hate and of passion and of distrust. I started finding love for it when I gained more independence at the end of my junior year of high school when I gained more independence. I started going for runs along the waterfront path by my house. I saw different nooks and crannies of the city that I found genuine love for. The neighborhood of Fells Point holds a much more special place in my heart than it has before just based on these runs. I started learning the history of Baltimore. How the city went from an agricultural farming to industrial shipping and mining. How redlining and segregation changed the demographic and cultural atmosphere of the city. How the war on drugs and policing influenced violence. All the history gave contect to the cities culture and mannerisms today.  

I found space in my head to justify and fight back against the systemic injustices caused. I started advocating for healthcare as a means to diminish the racial and economic gaps. While doing all of this I was still running along the waterfront, still building a relationship with the places I love in the city. I was finding cafes to get coffee at, restaurants to eat tasty stir fry in. While acknowledging the problematic and complex aspects of Baltimore, I was finding the good and the happy aspects as well. This is where I left my relationship with the city, looking for the good.