Baltimore: my quaint little hometown. From the land of pleasant living to those park benches that say “The City That Reads,” quickly dubbed “The City That Bleeds/Breeds.” Without being too negative, you’ve likely heard slogans thrown around in the city mix. The old easygoing variety like, Charm City/Harm City, and words that morph into murder and morgues. I don’t make this stuff up. It’s common knowledge. The ever-growing crime stats, now as tall as Mt. Vernon’s Washington Monument, minus the removal of all those Confederate statues.
Homicide’s through the roof as cities go. It’s no secret, crime’s way up in most urban areas. Throw in the opioid epidemic it’s icing on your death cake. It’s easy to diss American cities, as they falter, or talk smack about its citizens, especially if you don’t live there. With the shuttered Harborplace, to the ban on Squeegee Kids, it looks increasingly dismal. Harborplace, once the premier destination of a festival like three-ring circus, touting the city’s revival of urban renewal, opened in 1980. Almost half a century later, a woeful harbor front property is in disrepair, on the brink of disaster. Once the consumer's Disneyland of conspicuous consumption, now resembling the 2015 art installation by Banksy titled Dismaland.
A damning indictment on the subject of privilege, double-standards, and the social and economic disparity in Baltimore. The antebellum Southern theme parks, sideshow hysteria, and bizarre roadside attractions.
One roadside attraction Baltimore would like to see gone is the Squeegee Kids. If you’ve driven in the city, you’ve seen them, and sooner or later subjected to their unsolicited services. Like the street bums and winos in olden days, who’d approach vehicles at red lights. Gob spit on car windshields, wiping them off with grimy shirtsleeves in hopes of some spare change, only making the glass filthier. The Squeegee Kids at least do a decent job of it. But there’re too many now, it’s overkill. They eventually outsourced themselves becoming emboldened, like highway robbery, demanding money from motorists. Other claim they’re slinging drugs at red lights. Who knows? It came to a bloody head when an irate white motorist was shot dead by a Squeegee Kid.
Squeegee Kids popped up here and there around city intersections in the early-1980s, so it’s not new. They got their hustle on; some even sold bottled water and sodas for a buck. But drugs? It’s a one-stop shop. Get your windshields cleaned, buy a bottle of water and a gram of cocaine. What a deal. Nowadays, the Squeegee Kids are older, which is threatening to unsuspecting white tourists. It can be intimidating when they won’t take no as an answer for their window washing services and keep doing what they expect to be paid for. It’s a dilemma. The city has tried banning them, even offering to pay them not to squeegee. The first day of the ban, the “kids” showed up in force. It was a typical business as usual routine.
The problem isn’t Squeegee Kids. Scratch the surface, and you’ll see through the thin veneer of white indignation and hypocrisy that has always ruled. The ancient systemic racism that justifies everything in America runs rampant without even touching on critical race theory or the 1619 Project. The false narratives of whites who justify blacks as servile, ignorant and morally corrupt is the standard. It’s that never-ending revolving door of the prison population. White institutions in 450 years of history have never valued people of color, our fellow humans, as equal. As though somehow illegals and others living in poverty are less valuable than white rednecks or poor hillbillies.
Those with unlimited cash are infinitely richer than you. It doesn’t take X-ray vision to see through the bullshit of white elitists who control everything. A rejection that includes their own white-skin brothers and sisters who have little to bring to the corporate table of selfish pigs. They want more for them and less for you. America needs a reboot. Dismantle the parts. Push the reset button and start a new version of the game. Get religion out of so-called government. Stop trying to follow the cult of celebrity, corporate sports and Hollywood entertainment. Give politics back to all Americans, not only those who are white and can buy into it. Let people decide what’s right for them.