The question I asked myself constantly while I was laying the groundwork for Baltimore Beat was: How can I make life better, safer, easier for the next generation — especially the next generation of Black youth in Baltimore City?
Research shows that life expectancy is longer for babies born in whiter, wealthier Baltimore neighborhoods, and shorter for those in places that are poorer and Blacker. Young people born into poverty in Baltimore attend schools that must frequently close in the summer because the classrooms are too hot, and in the winter when conditions inside turn frigid. Poor kids who squeegee to make money are treated as problems, eyesores, and menaces rather than the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. The squeegee kids remind us of how far the city has to come, but also reminds us where Baltimore falls short. Despite the many successes in our city, too many of our neighbors are struggling, and many of those who are struggling are too young to do much about it besides just trying to survive.
In this issue, Baltimore Beat Deputy Editor J. Brian Charles examines what happens to many Black kids, especially Black boys, when they are sucked into the criminal justice system. The state’s attorney, judges, and lawyers all play a major role in a system that can effectively stop a young life before it even begins.
Charles reports that “1,900 Baltimore City children were referred to adult court in the last 10 years … more than 80 percent of those children were Black and the vast majority of them found themselves in adult court on so-called autocharges.”
Still, Baltimore rises above its trauma. The city and its residents grow and change. In this issue, I write about Baltimore artist Charles Mason III, who gave a talk at the Waller Gallery recently. Mason has already accomplished so much, and now as he settles into his residency at Waller, he’s looking forward to how his practice grows and changes.
Baltimore Beat is expanding what we offer. Last issue, we grew our event listings to include arts and culture events all around the city (send us your events by hitting us up at Lisa@baltimorebeat.com). In this issue, you will also find an easily digestible roundup of local news and a review of Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown’s “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.”