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Recommended Reading on Baltimore and Beyond

Recommended Reading on Baltimore and Beyond

I can’t possibly say anything better or more impactful or more insightful than the things said, the research done, in these pieces. And I can’t possibly not say anything about Baltimore. How could I say anything else about anything else today? So instead, here is recommended reading by more graceful minds, more informed heads, and more eloquent word makers than me.

Why Baltimore Burned: “Only six miles separate the Baltimore neighborhoods of Roland Park and Hollins Market,” interim Hopkins provost Jonathan Bagger said last year. “[B]ut there is a 20-year difference in the average life expectancy.”

The Powerful Scene on the Streets of Baltimore Monday Night that No One is Talking About: “I asked the clergy what they thought of the State of Emergency that the Governor declared,” Weiner said. “They said there has been a State of Emergency way before tonight in Baltimore City, an emergency in poverty, lack of jobs [and] disenfranchisement from the political process.”

Nonviolence as Compliance: “When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con.”

The Brutality of Police Culture in Baltimore: “$5.7 million is the amount the city paid to victims of brutality between 2011 and 2014. And as huge as that figure is, the more staggering number in the article is this one: “Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil-rights violations.” What tiny percentage of the unjustly beaten win formal legal judgments?”

When Rioting is Rational: “Along with the “culture of poverty” mythology, the riot effect gave white conservatives a convenient cudgel to wield against Black Power and the New Left. The alleged link between urban disorder, violent crime, and economic decline appeared early and often on the campaign trail, beginning with Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964 and continuing with Ronald Reagan’s gubernatorial run in 1966, Nixon’s presidential bid in 1968, and the rise of the New Right in the 1970s.”

Baltimore Uprising in Context: “Police malpractice – usually police brutality – like the many cases in Baltimore – of various kinds often has been the precipitating event for black rebellions, now for seven decades. White police officers have historically played, and still play, a major role in the violent repression of black Americans, especially those who seek to protest racism. Historical data on police violence are chilling. In the years 1920-1932 alone substantially more than half of all African Americans killed by whites were actually killed by police officers. Police were also implicated in the 6,000 lynchings of black men and women from the 1870s to the 1960s.”

Forcing Black Men Out of Society: “In addition to the “missing,” millions more are shut out of society, or are functionally missing, because of the shrinking labor market for low-skilled workers, racial discrimination or sanctions that prevent millions who have criminal convictions from getting all kinds of jobs. At the same time, the surge in imprisonment has further stigmatized blackness itself, so that black men and boys who have never been near a jail now have to fight the presumption of criminality in many aspects of day-to-day life — in encounters with police, in schools, on the streets and on the job.”

Ten Famous Riots that Changed History: “An official investigation of the crisis, prompted by then-Governor Pat Brown, found that the riot was a result of the Watts community’s longstanding grievances and growing discontentment with high unemployment rates, substandard housing, and inadequate schools.”

Please feel free – and encouraged – to leave your own reading suggestions in the comments here.

Amber Sparks

About The Author

Amber Sparks

Amber Sparks is the author of the short story collection MAY WE SHED THESE HUMAN BODIES and co-author of the novella THE DESERT PLACES (with Robert Kloss and illustrator Matt Kish.) Her second short story collection, THE UNFINISHED WORLD AND OTHER STORIES, will be published in early 2016 at Liveright/Norton.

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