Page 1

Volume 1 Number 1 August 2017

Inaugural Issue

“One On One” with the

honorable Catherine E. Pugh...Page 4


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MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR Volume 1 Number 1

August 2017

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris

GENERAL MANAGER Lawrence A. James MANAGING EDITOR Tiffany C. Ginyard

CONTRIBUTING COPY EDITOR Laurence C. Washington FILM CRITIC BlackFlix.Com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS James Michael Brodie Tiffany Christy Angela Gustus Shauna K. Henson Eric Jackson, Jr. Sean Yoes ART DIRECTOR Bee Harris

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert Kolor Graphix

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Melovy Melvin

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Tiffany Christy

The Baltimore Urban Spectrum is a monthly online publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color in and around the city of Baltimore. Contents of the Baltimore Urban Spectrum are copyright 2017 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Baltimore Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for space, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Baltimore Urban Spectrum c/o Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at www.denverurbanspectrum.com.

When Rosalind “Bee”

Harris contacted me to share with me her dream of expanding her already 30year-old, award-winning publication to a market in Baltimore, it was like a dream come true. When she told me the Urban Spectrum franchise would be honoring the mayors in our respective cities this month, I was initially overwhelmed by the challenge before me. In all my years in journalism, I’d never been to City Hall. As the managing editor of The Afro-American Newspapers, the mothership of Black media in Baltimore, I traveled to Denver, Colorado under the tutelage of the late Black press pioneer George Curry to cover the historic election of (former) President Barack Obama, but I’d never met the mayor of my own city. I was nervous, but ready. To keep it 100: I didn’t sit down with Mayor Catherine Pugh this week as the editor of the new Baltimore Urban Spectrum magazine. I sat down with Mayor Pugh as a former Baltimore City Public School student, a former Baltimore City Public School secondary English teacher, a mother, an adoptive parent, youth advocate, grassroots organizer and fellow alum, who knows Baltimore’s story so intimately. I spoke from the place of someone who has vicariously experienced the trauma of gang violence, drug addiction, illiteracy, mass incarceration, and poverty in an overcrowded classroom in a high school up Edmondson Village where I grew up. And honestly, my intentions were to put politics aside for a second, and have a candid conversation with Ms. Catherine E. Pugh about how she plans to move Baltimore forward on a community level. When I sat down with the mayor, I found myself in the presence of a relatable, approachable, down-to-earth, nononsense elder of the community. And in an atmosphere like that, our conversation flowed like living water from one village keeper to another.

“And how are the children?”

So I shared with her the premise of an article I read a few years back at a professional development workshop for teachers, entitled “And How Are the Children?” by Patrick O’Neill. And the premise is By Tiffany C. Ginyard this: When the priorities of Editor the community to protect Baltimore Urban Spectrum the young are in their proper place, peace and safety prevail. Like O’Neill, “I wonder if we heard that question and passed it along to each other a dozen times a day, if it would begin to make a difference in the reality of how children are thought of or cared about in our own country. “I wonder if every adult among us, parent and non-parent alike, felt an equal weight for the daily care and protection of all the children in our community... I wonder if we could truly say without any hesitation, “The children are well, yes, all the children are well.” So I pose to you, the people of Baltimore: Where do our priorities lie? Is it going up to the school to check the teacher, or is it revisiting your style of parenting following your active participation in a parent-teacher conference at your child’s school? Is giving your children everything you didn’t have growing up – without instilling in them the principles of work ethic, respect for authority, and the value of a dollar – a style of parenting that will yield a productive citizen once our children leave the nest? I ask this because sometimes I too am guilty of telling my child who and what to be and how to behave without explicit instruction. When I realized this, I was initially overcome with denial, then guilt, and then confusion. I was raising my kid the best way I knew how. Growing up, I just knew better – probably because I was raised to fear my mother more than anyone – or anything – in the world. While that worked for me, but it won’t for my daughter, Zaire, simply because this generation is fearless – and I love it; I want to cultivate it, not squelch it. This generation was born fearless, and, even in the little time they’ve spent in this life, Continued on page 14

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The Pugh Perspective

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh By Tiffany C. Ginyard

The Honorable Mayor Catherine

E. Pugh of Baltimore says she’s been putting in work since taking office just eight months ago. Getting in on the action is a leadership style she’s employed as a public servant for more than 15 years as a councilwoman for Baltimore’s 4th District; a member of the House of Delegates of the Maryland General Assembly; and a state Senator for Maryland, a position that has unfolded opportunities for her to serve as Majority Leader and flex her political prowess across the aisle on issues that have sustaining effects on African American communities, locally and nationally. The Pennsylvania native’s resume of servant leadership in Baltimore is extensive, beginning with her studies at Morgan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s and an MBA. From there, she worked as a banker, a business developer, and later took a position as the dean and director of Strayer Business College. As president of CEPugh and Company, a public relations and marketing firm, Pugh is no stranger to making media. The former television and radio news reporter and talk show host is the author of a series of children’s books and a book of inspirational poetry. When it comes to Baltimore, the mayor wants the same things every other city citizen wants—a safe village where children are nurtured, jobs are plentiful, neighborhoods are warm, and people have access to the resources they need to thrive as members of a community, and in life. More than 100 community leaders attended the mayor’s Call to Action at Baltimore City Community College in June, many reporting their readiness to get right to work in supporting her vision. Here, the chief of Baltimore, the village of villages connected by grit and grace, shares what came out of that initial meeting of the minds, and her experience thus far as Charm City’s mayor. And, in response to The Sun paper’s editorial scrutiny of her

latest initiatives ad policy decisions, Mayor Pugh invites the media to get in on the action and be part of the transformation already happening in the heart of the city. Mayor, Pugh you say you purposely avoid taking the Jones Fall Expressway when heading home after a day’s work at City Hall. What draws you to take the scenic route? Honorable Mayor Catherine E. Pugh: “I’ve been in office now for about 8 months and I think whenever you come into a new environment, you set a vision and a goal for what you want your city to look like. From zero to whatever age— you’ve got to care for everybody, because you have a responsibility to all of the citizens that live in your city. Then, you walk into the office and you are confronted with a number of things. For example, a DOJ report that required a consent decree to be done. Wasn’t done. Then immediately following that, we learned that our school system had a structural deficit, which meant that

teachers weren’t going to be in classrooms it meant that the future of our children was at stake. So, I spent January through April working with the General Assembly looking at what we could do...going into my city reserves to craft something that would provide a commitment to help our structural deficit over the next three years of $190 million. And that was important to me because that focused on our young people... Baltimore Urban Spectrum: ...While exponential rates of senseless violence, drug addiction, and substance abuse continue to stir unrest in our schools and neighborhoods... CP: We had to do in 60 days what, for example, Ferguson—with 50 police officers—took 13 months to do. New Orleans... took 14 months. We did it in 60 days. I [remember when] I stood on the corner of Pennsylvania and Laurens for almost two hours talking to about 100 different people about what they saw our needs being in our city—in our community. Everyone wants the

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same thing...a job and a place to live. Even if people have drug addiction problems, they want to work, and that’s why we created small contracts because we know that some of these citizens are difficult to hire, yet they can help us in many ways, and we can help them. So we’re doing that with grassroots organizations and community groups; individuals inside of our neighborhoods who can hep change that paradigm. BUS: You mentioned drug addiction—how are we moving forward on that issue? CP: Here’s what we must do. We must do drug treatment in our communities more responsibly because we have propped up too many drug treatment centers in poor black neighborhoods, or what the media considers to be poor black neighborhoods. But what’s been forgotten is that there are people who live in those neighborhoods, and people who brought their homes and aren’t going anywhere. Those citizens—and their homes— have been devalued by virtue of not running drug treatment centers respectfully in our neighborhoods and communities. And, they should be medically based. BUS: You say public safety is one of the biggest issues facing Baltimore right now. Can you speak more to that, especially in regards to the proposal of local legislation that will make it a misdemeanor crime, punishable by a mandatory sentence of one year and a fine of $1,000 for possessing an illegal handgun within 100 yards of a park, a school, a church, a public building or another place of public assembly? CP: Public safety is key. Now people say, “why is that so important?” Too many guns, illegal guns, on the streets of our city. Too many babies being caught in cross fires because people don’t realize that we have too many illegal guns on our streets. People can get guns if they want, but there’s a process for getting a legal gun, so I had to pay particular attention to that. And the reason that was so important is because after the death of Freddie Gray, there was this vision


that Baltimore City didn’t care about the people. That there was this lack of confidence in our police department and that they didn’t respect our neighborhoods and communities. BUS: What steps has the city taken toward honoring the proposed consent decree in response to last year’s DOJ report? CP: What the consent decree required is that we put together a proposal that had to be accepted by the courts that said we’re going to put something in place that one, instills confidence in the community in our police department that provides the training and technology that they need, but also develops that engagement between the community and the police department. We hire police officers to protect and serve. They’re not supposed to be our enemy. They are from us; they should be from us. They should be of our community. I learned early on that 70 percent of our officers don’t live in our city. We focused on getting that done, and it’s done. It’s been approved by the courts; we’re now at the stage where we have selected the community oversight group and are in the process of selecting the monitors. BUS: Speaking of the media, The Sun reported last month, “The violence is not a blip. It is the continuation of a torrid trend of assaults, shootings and murders that has continued with no respite for two years, yet the city is still stumbling its way toward anything like a coherent plan for stemming the bloodshed. It’s long past time for the city to unite behind a new anti-violence strategy and commit to carrying it through.” What is your response to that?

They [The Sun] want to make noise, I want to make change. They don’t want to get in on the action. They don’t want to cover the action; they’re just keeping this negativity going instead of asking, well, ‘what is she doing? Let’s sit down with her?’” BUS: Mayor, I came across an article some years ago entitled “And How Are the Children?” by Patrick T. O’Neill, that tells a story of the Masai, one of the most “accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa. This question translated in the tribal tongue as “Kasserian Ingera”— was, and still is, “the traditional greeting among the Masai, acknowledging the high value that the Masai always place on their children’s well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own would always give the traditional answer, ‘All the children are well.’ Meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place.” With this perspective in mind, can you speak to how is your work as mayor is ultimately giving our children a sense of empowerment? How are the children? CP: I believe that when we touch our children at their earliest age that changes the trajectory of their lives, which is why I am a big believer in

CP: First of all, I think The Sun paper is so off. And I have no problems confronting them because they offer no solutions. They stand on the outside because they too, get on 83 and go up the road and don’t participate in our neighborhoods and communities. They don’t know what we’re doing; they have not had a conversation with me. BUS: So what did come out of the Call to Action gathering in June? CP: For two years [The Sun] sat around and criticized the last [mayor]...but that’s not my issue. I’ve been here for eight months. My issue is working with people. When I called the city people to action, they didn’t attend that. Every week, I meet with about 17 to 20 grassroots people in the neighborhoods and communities and we looked at empowering programs in our communities and neighborhoods—you can ask Umar Boxing Center. You can ask [community leaders] up in Park Heights. You can ask the Muslim community. We’re empowering them because they’re on the ground every day. You know, people want instant change. Yeah well, instant change is not happening. They should hire somebody who is willing to follow me to see what I’m doing or to have a conversation with me. I shouldn’t have to go down and tell them what I’m doing. They can follow me every day. They can sit in on the conversations if they want to, but they don’t. And I don’t have time to waste because time is valuable. That’s why I’m working with the folks who I know are willing to work with me...those folks that are out there on the ground every day.

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Judy Centers. They start training our children at six weeks of age. So the question is “are our children well?” It depends on where you’re looking. In some neighborhoods and communities, absolutely, but in some communities absolutely not. We have neglected neighborhoods and communities for decades. I’m looking at how do we make more programs available for youth like extended library hours so and [expanding] this community school concept where we use the school for more than just coming to the classroom, but being able to extend services longer. We’re now having more mental health services for our young people because I can’t imagine what it’s like as a child to hear gunfire or to know someone who’s gotten shot. We have to make sure that our children are mentally taken care of. [On a positive note], we have so many young people who worked this summer. We had more children go to work this summer than ever in the history of the city—almost 8500 children. And I can’t tell you how many texts I got from companies and corporations. And I said to them, “Don’t just throw me $1500 to pay a youth to work this summer, take that child into your corporation, so they can get the experience that they don’t ordinarily get. And so there’s that. .


Baltimore Ceasefire: Nobody Kill Anybody

If you drive along W. North

By Sean Yoes

Avenue from its beginning point near

Hilton Street in West Baltimore, down to Penn and North at the epicenter of

the Uprising of 2015, “Baltimore

Ceasefire: Nobody Kill Anybody,”

posters are ubiquitous like city blight. The posters adorning vacant rowhouses, bus stop benches and lamp posts announce a prayer of sorts, no violence, no killings in Baltimore for 72 hours, from August 4-6. It is a desperate prayer for many who have witnessed the third year in a row of record violence and homicides in Baltimore; 2015 was the deadliest year in the city’s history and at 205 murders before August 1, the city is on pace this year to eclipse 2015’s horrible record. The initial and sustaining energy behind this anti-violence movement for a city devastated by it, comes from Erricka Bridgeford, the director of training for Community Mediation Maryland, which facilitates vital mediation services for Maryland residents and Ellen Gee, the director of The Evolution of Perspective, a women’s group and networking organization. Since Bridgeford and Gee introduced this incarnation of a ceasefire in Baltimore in May, in the midst of another year of record violence and homicide, the anti-violence movement has grown dramatically, garnering attention nationally and internationally. “I think that is why the world caught on. Baltimore residents did so much work pushing this message forward and connecting with one another and connecting people to resources and doing the outreach,” Bridgeford said. “It became a thing you could not ignore, because Baltimore said, `we are doing this whether there are cam

Erricka Bridgeford talking to Russian news outlet about the Ceasefire movement in Baltimore Baltimore Urban Spectrum — www.baltimoreurbanspectrum.com – August 2017

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eras there, or a media story about it or not.’ And so the media suddenly ent, ‘What’s this thing I’m seeing everywhere?’” In fact, residents of other cities grappling with epic violence like Detroit have acknowledged the Baltimore Ceasefire movement (as well as donated money and resources according to Bridgeford), as well as celebrities/legends like L.L. Cool J. Gee said the movement and the message resonates with different people for different reasons. “When we were in the planning phases of the Ceasefire, we thought about the messaging and who that specific hashtag would speak to,” she said. “So, there are people who are very, very aware—acutely aware—of the aggressive nature and the aggressive culture of Baltimore City and there are people who actively participate in that,” Gee added. “I wanted to talk to people who, violence is not on their mind...the message about a Baltimore ceasefire doesn’t speak to people who just go about their day to day...I got to work, I come home, I mind my business. But, the idea to keep peace on your mind, keep it top of mind…” Perhaps, one of the most authentic and poignant reactions to the Baltimore Ceasefire movement came from an unidentified young man engaged by Bridgeford on the streets of the city. “Oh. Y’all are doing this so we can stop dying right?” he said. “That’s wassup. I mean, a lot of stuff we are doin is just f——-d up. Can you give me a poster? Imma put it on my bedroom wall. I wanna just look at it and think about it.” . Sean Yoes is the editor of the Baltimore AFRO American Newspaper, one of oldest Black newspapers in the country and host and executive producer of, “First Edition,” which airs Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m. on NPR station WEAA, 88.9.


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Battle Lines:

F

One-on-One with Playwright Ursula V. Battle James Michael Brodie

ull disclosure. I met Ursula V.

Battle in 1996 during my brief stint as

editor of the Baltimore Afro-American

Newspaper. She was a dedicated jour-

nalist who dug deep to pull out something that no one else saw in a story. Our proudest moment together was

an expose’ she did on discrimination within the Baltimore City Police

Department that led to wholesale

changes, including a change in police

commissioners. Since then, I have witnessed her rise as one of the most recognizable and well respected playwrights in the city, writing and presenting original works through her company, Battle Stage Plays. Most memorable were her first production, The Teachers’ Lounge, (which debuted at Coppin State University in 2002), and DisChord in The Choir (which played to packed houses at Johns Hopkins University). The Baltimore native and Walbrook High alum graduated a magna cum laude from Coppin State University and earned a master’s degree from the University of Baltimore. Her current project is a revival of sorts, For Better or Worse. The dinner theater production will be performed August 26 and 27 at the One God One Thought Center for Better Living in Baltimore. The play premiered in 2009, drawing a sell-out audience. A return two-show engagement in February drew sell-out audiences, and the show returns in August by popular demand. Recently, the Baltimore Urban Spectrum sat down with Ursula to discuss her writing process. Baltimore Urban Spectrum: Let’s talk about your current project, “For Better or Worse.” The play revolves around a bet. Doesn’t it? Ursula Battle: Yes, it does revolve around a bet. The storyline centers

around a bet between two churchgoing mothers, who are sworn enemies. They make a bet as to whether their children are going to get married to each other. One is betting that the will get married, and one is betting that they will not get married. BUS: One word. Describe For Better or Worse. UB: (laughing) Hilarious. BUS: Talk about how you developed your main characters and their interactions. Where did that come from? UB: For this particular piece, I actually came up with these characters based on things that they do that are depicted in

their names. There is “Adulterous Anna,” “Gossiping Gertrude,” “Lustful Larry,” and there’s “Lying King.” I created these characters to represent things that often drive relationships apart, and things that people should avoid to keep their marriages or friendships together. Contrarily, the characters also include “Mr. and Mrs. Equally Yoked,” compared to “Mr. and Mrs. Unequally Yoked.” There is also “Honesty Harriet,” “Constance Communication,” and the pastor, “Rev. Right Just.” They are among the many supporting characters. The main characters are the engaged couple

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“Clayton Johnson”, and “Theresa Stone“, and their mothers, Sister Geraldine ToPhaze/Two-Faced Stone“ and “Sister Sudie Snooty Johnson”. BUS: Now this play, like many of your works, takes place in a church setting. Why is that such fertile ground for you? UB: That is a great question. I have come to realize that writing plays is my God-given ministry. These plays allow us to preach and minister from the stage. I write the script, it is then given to the director, and finally the performers. We are all under the direction of the ultimate and great director – God. Each of us plays a part in performing in these productions that He has put together. All of my plays have some connection to The-United-in- VictoryTabernacle-on-the-Hill-Free-WillBaptist-Catholic-and-EpiscopalChurch-of God-in-Christ. All of these stories center around this imaginary church. While fictitious, the things that happen in the lives of its membership are very real life – the joy and the struggles. People can relate because they can identify with what these characters are dealing with or are facing. BUS: You and I go back about a minute or two (to the Baltimore Afro American Newspaper in the 1990s). During your days as a reporter, you took on discrimination in the Baltimore City Police Department, and other things. Talk about those days, and what you pull from that when you write today. UB: First, I am always grateful to Jake Oliver and Frances Draper, and former editor Joe Green Bishop, for giving me my journalistic start. They let me come in and join their staff. I am thankful, because I believe that God was preparing me by equipping me with experiences that can only be learned by writing for a newspaper. My writing experience with The Baltimore AfroAmerican Newspaper, and The Baltimore Times, whom I currently


write for, has provided these experiences, and I am grateful for the opportunity these publications have given me. I am also thankful for my former Afro editors, the late Jimmy Williams, and you Michael, who trusted me as a journalist, and allowed me to write stories that not only needed to be told, but brought about needed change. Kudos also goes to the late Afro-American Newspaper sports editor Sam Lacy, who made sure my stories were wellwritten and accurate. I also thank my journalistic mentor and former professor, Dr. Ernest L. Lassiter. BUS: What came first for you – a love of writing or a love of theatre? UB: Writing. I was the one in school who could write my research and essay papers at the last minute and get good grades, write short skits, etc. I never really gave a great deal of thought to writing a stage play until I saw Shelly Garrett’s Beauty Shop during the 1990s. After seeing the show, my mother, Vashtied Battle-Brown, who was a special education teacher in the Baltimore City Public System at the time, said, “Ursula, you should write a play about teachers.” I sat down to write, and The Teachers’ Lounge was born. It was then that I realized I had the God-given, natural ability to write plays. BUS: Tell me a story about your childhood. UB: As a child, I used to do a lot of reading. I was a regular at the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Garrison Boulevard, always checking out books. I stayed at the library. I read a lot of comic books and other books, but one of my favorite writers was Richard Wright, who wrote Native Son. I also loved reading books by Agatha Christie and S. E. Hinton. Sometimes, I would read the same books over and over again. Reading would allow me to go into an imaginary world, and I would often use dolls and toys as performers and props. BUS: Tell me something that explains who you are as a writer and as a woman. UB: As a woman, I have a strong church background. My grandfather, the late Rev. William Nelson Stokes, who founded New Hope Baptist Church, my grandmother Vashtied Myrtle Stokes was both first lady and a missionary, and my father John Battle is a minister. My siblings and I grew up in the church. I believe that upbringing is why so much of my work is reflective of the church. My parents also had a dedicated and hard-working work ethic. I am also a former athlete, which instilled a sense of perseverance, dedication, and endurance. BUS: So is there a playwright that you admire?

UB: I have a lot of admiration and respect for Tyler Perry, and the door he has opened for other playwrights. I’ve often been called, ‘The Female Tyler Perry.’ I also admire Lorraine Hansberry. I’m often told that I remind people of her. I can’t say that I emulate anybody because I have my own unique writing style. Ursula V. Battle plays are a combination of powerful ministry, side-splitting comedy, edge-of-your-seat drama, soul-stirring singing, and unpredictable, yet unforgettable story lines. However, each play is vastly different. Ultimately, my goal is that people leave better than where they were when they came in. I want them be uplifted and to see that God is able. BUS: You have a library full of plays. What’s your favorite? Is there one that you are most proud of? UB: I’m going to answer that two ways. The one that I am going to be most proud of is debuting in December 15, 16, and 17, 2017 at Johns Hopkins, called Ursula V. Battle’s Serenity House. I believe this piece will have the biggest impact on audiences spiritually and I am very excited about that aspect. It deals with addiction. Not just the problem of addition, but overcoming. As for what I have done, I am proud them all, but DisChord in The Choir is the piece I am most proud of. We took that play to Johns Hopkins University, almost 800 seats, and we sold out every show. It marked the first time I worked with Dr. Branch on a production, and I believe we make an outstanding theatrical duo. A close second in terms of my favorite play is The Teachers’ Lounge, because that was my debut piece. I am grateful for those who support our shows time and time again, and continue to help us to draw sell-out audiences. Most of all, I thank God for using me a vehicle to write these plays, and to uplift and glorify His name. All honor goes to Him. .

Dr. Katrick Desai 3290 N Ridge Rd #100, Ellicott City, MD 21043

Phone: (410) 313-9292

DUS 30th Anniversary Theme Song Available on CD Baby Baltimore Urban Spectrum — www.baltimoreurbanspectrum.com – August 2017

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Divine Intervention

BPD’s Faith-based Program Dispatch Civilian Chaplains Throughout City By Tiffany Christina Part I of III in a series

A preacher’s kid, Angel Williams

Min. Angel Williams

wasn’t “in the streets,” but having

grown up in Baltimore’s infamous

Park Heights community, she’s very familiar with how to move through

them without being of them. For her kids, she said, she wanted better. So when she finally left Baltimore 15 years ago, she vowed never to return. Soon, however, war cries from the heart of her hometown caught up with her in Texas, and called her home. Williams alludes to Romans 7:23 to contextualize her reason for going back on her word and returning to Baltimore: “Paul said ‘the good that I would do, evil is ever so before me.’ So, he found himself battling within. I feel like that’s where Baltimore is at right now. Baltimore is at war with itself. What’s happening right now is coming from within. This is inside stuff, and we can’t run away from it; we have to deal with it.” The mother of five has come back simply to give back. Volunteering with the Baltimore City Police Department as a civilian chaplain is how she’s come back to deal with what she left behind. Her job is to be a bridge between the police and the community. She is currently assigned to man the hospitals in the Western District—St. Agnes and Bon Secours. As an intake coordinator for cancer patients at her day job, she’s in familiar company.

The general divide between the community and the police is no secret. Trust left the streets a long time ago, when funds for PAL Centers and Officer Friendly initiatives were cut, recreation centers closed down, and zero tolerance tactics overroad the ethics of community policing. As body counts for this year’s homicides increase exponentially, the writing’s on the wall: Real love is cooperation, and divisiveness is death. While politics and statistics have their place, restoring a sense of humanity among us all is of the essence.

Baltimore City Police Chief Melvin Russell

based initiative to curb crime in the Eastern District, where his humble beginnings as a police officer began. “The goal was to get all of the churches together to meet at the district,” said Det. Quintese Green, one of Russell’s day oners. “I remember thinking, ’these people are not going to listen to you and you’re not going to be able to do it.’ All lot of people had their doubts. But he did it. Cause he never gave up. “He had us go and get every phone number, every address of every church, and have them to meet him at

“Baltimore is at war with itself. What’s happening right now is coming from within. This is inside stuff, and we can’t run away from it; we have to deal with it.”

“A lot of people have lost respect for officers; they don’t realize that the officers go through what the people in the community go through,” Williams said of her experience working with the Faith-based Program of the BPD’s Community Collaboration Division. In January, she graduated with the Civilian Chaplain Academy’s third class. “You have to be available. You have to always be willing to serve. This is a calling and when you’ve been called to do it, you become a servant to whomever. And you have to walk in the spirit of humility.” This is the kind of outreach Baltimore City Police Chief Melvin Russell had in mind eight years ago when he cast his vision for a faith-

the district” said Green. “We had about 80 pastors or clergy to meet at the Eastern and he cast his vision. And it was simple. In order for Eastern district to transform, they were going to all have to come out from their congregations and come together.” After a year or two, crime in the district reached an all-time low, Green says. “And everybody wanted to know how he did it. All he did was encourage the faith-based community to do their part.” Russell’s charge was well received. With this momentum, the mission of the BPD’s traditional chaplaincy has expanded to supporting the work of police in the community through ride alongs, community outreach, assisting

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officers and civilians on first-responder calls, and chaplains offering their Divine consciousness to civilians in law enforcement situations to minimize opportunities for injustice to occur. “I believe that we as chaplains are bridging the gap in the community and with the officers. We are that advocate speaking on [officers’] behalf, and maybe say what [officers] can’t say, said Williams. “We are here to breathe the breath of life back into the city of Baltimore to where people don’t look at it and see gloom and doom.” Det. Green encourages every faithbased leader in the city to at least sign up to get the training so they can get the perspective of the police. Whether they get on board with the collaborative division’s efforts, join the program or not, they are gaining the invaluable insight that will equip them to participate in effecting change in the community. “Even if they come to the training and decide it’s not right for them,” she said. “At least they got the training. And that’s huge.” . Editor’s note: Tiffany Christina is an urban educator, youth advocate, and multimedia editor & producer. She enjoys capturing the beauty of her beloved Baltimore in words and pictures. Follow her at on Facebook/tiffany.ginyard.


Barter Baltimore Stop Spending, Grow Your Business By Shauna K. Henson

You just started a business. You

are finally feeling that sense of ownership and embracing the idea that you

are on your way. Then it hits you. Now you need to make money on your own. Money you need to use to live while simultaneously building the kind of business you want to have. Someone told you you needed a website, someone else said you need social media pages, and someone else mentioned that you need business cards. A million things to get and do, limited time, and even less money to get them done. What do you do? Time to get creative. Believe it or not, starting a business, any business, even if you are a solopreneur, is a group effort. If it isn’t a group effort now, it will need to become one soon for you to make a legitimate splash in the entrepreneurial pond. No business owner succeeds on their own, nor should they hope to. Small business works best when everyone succeeds. The challenge there is that small business owners are usually in competition with each other more than they are in community with each other. That is the hinderance to your success in one sentence - you aren’t willing to help enough people. I know, I know. You give to the homeless person you drive by when you go downtown, you volunteer with habitat for humanity, you may even give every week at your church. But what kind of plan do you have in place to help another person just getting started out? A person in the exact same

boat as you? For most people, the answer to that question is no plan at all. Not because they are unwilling, it is more because they don’t have the financial capital to support themselves and another business owner in any meaningful way. What if I you could support someone without donating a dollar? What if you that someone else could support your business in a real, tangible, and meaningful way without an exchange of money ever happening? Would you do it? Most people would say yes! Well, it is possible. There is a system that has been in place since long before you and I were born called bartering. Long, long ago, in a land far, far away (not really, it was still America), there was no physical money. Instead, people exchanged goods and services of equal value as a way to acquire things. That principle, the principle where small businesses exchange goods and services for mutual benefit is missing from how we do business today! Not only is it missing, but it is contributing to the failure of many small businesses that are trying to get started. How you may ask? If as a small business owner I need a website. To have a good, solid website designed is going to cost upwards of $800—unless I get a donation from cousin Pookie. Well, I don’t have $800, so I go the DIY route. If I am not technically inclined, I either get frustrated (or too busy) and quit. This likely means I never get a great website, which in turn means I limit the

amount of business I can do. Or, I produce a mediocre website that, while it gets traffic, does not successfully convert visitors to customers, and so my business never advances. What could have been the difference maker here? A professionally designed site, complete with meta tags, and analytics or a site that becomes a tool to aide the growth and development of my business instead of a check mark on the list of things someone told me I needed. Instead of this debacle of a situation, where my business fails miserably because I didn’t have enough money, what if a web designer and I set up an arrangement where they designed my site, and I provided them with marketing advice for a set period of time? Now I have a site, and the designer gets more clients because of the exposure my advice would provide. That is a win-win. No money is exchanged, but both businesses are made more successful because of the trade. Sound interesting? It should! But before you embark the business of bartering arrangements, here are some things to keep in mind. 1.The barter should meet a primary need of both entities. In business, some things are going to be more important than others at different intervals. Whenever you set out to make a bartering arrangement, make sure you are addressing a primary need at the time. The reason is really so you will continue to perceive the deal you make as a good one. If you

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satisfy a minor need at the time of the deal, you may begin to resent the deal at some point in the not too distant future. 2. Exposure does count. For a small business, exposure is its own currency. If someone is able to offer you exposure to their audience, and that audience is large enough, you may want to consider the value that will have on future business in your bartering arrangement. 3. All bartering arrangements must have a terminal end. Not even the best things can go on forever. You will want to set clear terms about what is included in your barter, and what criteria will be met to consider the arrangement satisfied. Make sure everything you agree on this in writing, even if the total at the bottom reflects complete zero. 4. Work to exchange value for value. It would be in the best interest of both parties to ensure that the value of the trade is equal or very close. It may not be in the best interest of the business owner on either side of the deal to have a balance remaining that would have to be paid in cash. The purpose of the bartering arrangement is to alleviate a hardship for both small businesses. Keep that in mind as you determine what items you are willing to barter. 5. Document, document, document. Make sure you clearly document each bartering deal. You want to ensure that both parties are clear about the products or services that are being exchanged. While I could go on and on about the merits of bartering, there is one resounding cautionary tale that must be repeated over and over. This system only works if both parties involved are receiving mutual benefit. It cannot be that one person is receiving a complete website, and the other gets a box of keychains (unless of course those keychains meet a primary need). Overall, you want to make sure you are exchanging equivalent value, and receiving something that will be meaningful for your business. That’s it: Bartering 101. If after your first deal, you realize how much you love the practice, you may even want to consider setting up a bartering program for your business—one where you identify particular products and services you would be willing to trade time and time again. Once you get a good system in place, bartering in your business may become something you call on regularly to help your business grow. . Editor’s note: Shauna K. Henson is the CEO of Maven Marketing and Consulting. Connect with her at www.madeformavens.com.


Ground Rules

Must See............llll It’s Worth A Look.....lll See At Your Own Risk.ll Don’t Bother.....................l

Editor’s note: Samantha Ofole-Prince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is Blackflix.com’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Khaleel Herbert is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of BlackFlix.com. Like Blackflix.com on Facebook, follow Blackflix.com on Twitter

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ic crew - each member more unhinged that the other. Bats, one of Doc’s crew members, (Jamie Foxx) dislike Baby instantly, so natural enemies are born. Actually, we really wouldn’t have a story if Bats liked Baby. By the way, Foxx’s character is aptly named. A righteous killer, in his own mind, Bats has a Gibraltar size chip on his shoulder and wants to waste everybody. And I mean EVERYBODY. At the risk of sounding cliché, Baby Driver is a constant thrill ride, as each

Despicable Me 3

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Baby Driver

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Baby Driver ll1/2

By Laurence Washington

aby Driver is a departure from director Edgar Wright’s usual fare, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End and Shaun of the Dead. Although some parts are as violent and surreal as those films, Baby Driver is tethered in reality. It’s almost homage to Tarantino’s vengeance and psychopath-driven storylines. Ansel Elgort is Baby, a virtuoso getaway driver. He drives a car like he’s coming home through rush hour. Once he inserts his ear buds (to drown out the constant ringing in his ears), and slides beneath the wheel, Baby becomes a prodigy who creates his masterpieces on the city’s asphalt. With its wall-to-wall classic rock and R&B soundtrack from Barry White to Queen, (Boomers might like the music better than the movie), Baby Driver is Transporter meets Fast and Furious. Which Fast and Furious? Does it matter? Pick a number…any number. I think they are up to eight now. Baby is recruited by Doc (Kevin Spacey), a mastermind who plans elaborate robberies with a psychopath-

heist becomes more elaborate than the last, and the car chases are fueled with a higher mix of octane. To the film’s detriment, the story slows down to 55 mph, to establish a love story between Baby, and a waitress name Debora (Lily James) whom he meets in a diner. An obvious plot, as Baby promises to do a final heist, and drives off in the sunset with Debora. We’ll there is still 45 minutes left in the film, and the scriptwriters ain’t having that. Neither is the audience who are holding a $12 ticket stub. So, Bats and Doc blackmail Baby back into the business with the threat of harming Debora. Surprise! Bet you never saw that coming. With the film back on track, the final heist goes wrong and the crew falls apart. Not to give too much away, but Jon Hamm (Mad Men), who plays a creepy member of Doc’s crew, is like the Energizer Bunny - he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.’ Hamm’s character starts off shallow, but becomes deeper and darker as the story progresses. Baby Driver is a small film compared to the other summer blockbusters. But it does offer a stellar cast. Thank God it wasn’t in 3-D.

Despicable Me 3 l By Khaleel Herbert

espicable Me 3, like Gru’s longlost brother, should have stayed longlost. Gru (Steve Carell) hits rock-bottom. He mistakenly let 80’s hipster Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) get away for the umpteenth time. The Anti Villain League has let him and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) go and all but two of his beloved minions threw in the towel because they can’t return to villainy. What’s the poor guy to do? The next day, Gru discovers that he has a long-lost twin brother named Dru (also Carell). Gru packs up the family and travels to Fredonia. When they arrive, they see Dru living the good life with a big house, cool cars and long luxurious hair. Of course, Gru is jealous. Dru shows Gru the family history and how they all come from a line of notorious villains. When Dru asks Gru to join him in villainy, Gru is torn. Despicable Me 3, although great for children, lacks the same depth and magic of the first two films. First, Bratt was a terrible villain. He’s an 80’s junkie who dance-fights to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and bombs people with a Rubix Cube. He was funny at first, but his catchphrase, “I’ve been a bad boy,” got stale quickly. Plus he tries to destroy everything with a giant robot. News flash: Villains from Power Rangers already used that bit. Vector and El Macho were better adversaries than Bratt by a landslide. Vector had squid launchers and rigged his house with all kinds of booby traps. El Macho persuaded Dr. Nefario to join his side and he stole most of Gru’s minions to turn them into purple monsters.

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Next, the movie’s plot took me higher and higher, and then dropped me when it hit the middle. The plot became predictable and the ending didn’t give closure. They shouldn’t add any more movies to the franchise unless it’s a spinoff like Minions. There were some good parts to the third installment. Pharrell Williams returns as composer for the film. He includes the famous tracks, “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Despicable Me” plus new songs. I also admire that the Despicable Me trilogy nods at movie buffs. Certain scenes parody classic movies. In Despicable Me, Gru freaks out when he finds a doll’s head in his bed. That comes from The Godfather. In Despicable Me 2, Gru is attacked by El Macho’s chicken and it pops out of his shirt. That comes from Alien. In Despicable Me 3, Gru says Dr. Nefario accidentally froze himself in carbonite. That’s Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi. Despicable Me 3 is fun for the kids and can make adults chuckle. But as Gru says, sometimes you look for a unicorn and you get a goat. Despicable Me 3 is not a unicorn. It’s a smelly goat.

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By Samantha Ofole-Prince

hile watching this third installment from the Plant of the Apes franchise, I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics of Marvin Gaye’s antiwar, song “What’s Going On?” Gaye’s message that war is not the answer is highly poignant in War For The Planet Of The Apes. At the core of this film is a decisive battle between rapidly rising apes and desperately declining humans with each fighting for the survival of ,


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Spider-Man: Homecoming “No Stars”

War for the Planet of the Apes

their species and it takes place two years after the last offering Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis), the superintelligent alpha-ape who was introduced to audiences in the first film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, only wants to live peacefully apart from humans especially after the power struggles seen in Dawn. But peace between the species has collapsed and when a renegade band of human soldiers, led by an imperious Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson), attacks the colony and Caesar is hit with an unimaginable personal loss. Despite criticizing his late former antagonist Koba for his inability to forgive humans, he finds he can’t forgive Colonel McCullough. Despondent and devastated, he comes to the grim conclusion that humans and apes will never be able to live together and it becomes a world filled with hate and rage as the apes and humans battle for world domination. A sweeping, action-packed spectacle peppered with political and social ideologies, it’s directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), and is a heartfelt drama with cinematic references to war films Platoon and Francis Ford Coppola anti-war epic film Apocalypse Now (there’s a scene showing the sign Ape-ocalypse Now scrawled in a cave). Audiences will witness a winnertake-all high-tech CGI battle, mass explosions, spears, bullets and apes on horseback and swinging from trees and the pivotal war that determines the fate of human civilization. Accompanied by Michael Giacchino’s brilliant score, which really propels the action and emotion, they will be immersed in Caesar’s emotional quest to lead his young society to a new home. Driven by his personal vendetta against the Colonel, they will empathize with his rage to use any

means necessary to vanquish the humans. Returning cast members include Maurice (Karin Konoval) and Rocket (Terry Notary). New additions include a young human girl (Amiah Miller) who plays an unexpected role in the apes’ survival and an elderly intelligent chimp and zoo escapee called Bad Ape. Portrayed with comic poignancy by Steve Zahn, he adds the smidge of comic relief to this delightfully dark drama. “This is a holy war,” Colonel McCullough tells Caesar in one terrifying scene. “All of human history has led to this moment.”

Spider-Man: Home Coming, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly By Laurence Washington and Khaleel Herbert

While I was enthralled with the

Man, played believable by Tom Holland, had a cameo in Captain America: Civil War, so he’s a veteran character. The audience already knows that he can spin a web any size and catch thieves just like flies. Cons: Admittedly, Spider-Man hardliners will miss many of the usual suspects: Harry Osborne, the Green Goblin, J. Jonah Jamison, flashbacks of Uncle Ben dying, but they are not essential to this story arc. They will probably show up in sequels, but these characters would just be underfoot here. Final Word: If you’re going to see this movie with your mind already made up, save your money, and revisit the Sam Rami films. You’ll have a much better time. But if you’re ready to put on your “big boy pants” and join the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man: Homecoming is worth every dollar.

–Laurence Washington

Spider Man: Home Coming

new Spider-Man movie, Khaleel was less...well, let us say impressed. In fact, I’m sure Khaleel will agree that we saw two different movies with the same title. I say, go see the movie for yourself, and get back to us with your thoughts. That being said: Below are our quick takes on Spider-Man: Home Coming.

– Laurence Washington

Spider-Man: Home Coming llll

Best Tidbit: The after credit scenes will whet your appetite for the next installment. However, it’s Spider-Man: Homecoming’s final shot that will bring audiences out of their seats saying wow! Pros: Spider-Man: Homecoming’s is fresh and thankfully avoids another boring origin storyline. How many times do we have to retread that storyline? Marvel fans might recall Spider-

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Best Tidbit: The only good thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming was seeing Garcelle Beauvais as Liz’s mother. Everything else was garbage. Pros: Nothing Cons: This version didn’t live up to the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Amazing Spider-Man comics. They didn’t show or flashback to when Peter Parker was bitten by the spider, Uncle Ben telling Parker with great power comes great responsibility or Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn. There was no sign of J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle or Parker taking photos of himself fighting crime as Spider-Man. These were all essential points in Parker’s world and how he took on a double life. In Homecoming, Spider-Man gets a decked-out spider-suit from Tony Stark and wants to join the Avengers. In the comics and animated TV shows (from the 60’s to mid-2000’s), SpiderMan was his own superhero and teamed up with different superheroes along the way. Parker designed his own suit and found out information about villains with his wits–not with a Siri voice inside his suit. Final Word: Homecoming is a disgrace to the Spider-Man universe and all who played the web-slinger through the decades from Paul Soles to Tobey Maguire.

–Khaleel Herbert.


Message from the Editor

Continued from page 3 they are ready for change. So, what are we, the adults, going to do to secure a better future for not only them, but ourselves? As single mothers, are we perpetuating the brokenness in our families by hiding behind our strength and success? Are we giving our children’s fathers equal access to their seeds – even if they’ve missed one, or many, child support payments? "Are we chasing the illusion of reality TVs housewife life, knowing full well that most of our men aren’t ballers and rappers, and that many are risking their freedom engaging in illegal activities to provide for our families while others have humbly laid

their egos aside for low wage jobs or inconsistent cash from under the table-“just trying to stay out the way” as we say-- to be present and accounted for in our communities? Sistas, how are we saying thank you? Are we speaking life into the kings of our culture? Are we affirming their greatness when we return back to the hood after marching around the office all day in the stilettos we wore crossing the stage to receive our college degrees? Are we reminding our fathers, sons, uncles, brothers and cousins, who are incarcerated under fickle U.S. policies, of their royalty? Are we standing in the gap for them or are we just pushing through and breaking ceilings, but still in our feel-

ings because “good” black men are hard to find? The truth is, my beautiful Black Sistahs, the strength of our men is firmly rooted in the womb of our femininity. In some crazy, roundabout way, in all they do they do for our families. I took on the Baltimore Urban Spectrum, because I believe through storytelling we can bring healing, wisdom and empowerment to the villages throughout Baltimore City. In this inaugural issue, my mentor Sean Yoes, editor of the Baltimore Afro-American Newspapers catches the nation up to speed with the latest news on this weekend’s Ceasefire, a city-wide stop-the-violence initiative curated by local grassroots organiza-

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tion and community leaders. Eric Jackson, schools us on the concept of black food sovereignty as a solution to the food desert issue in our community. In business, Angela Gustus takes a scribe down memory lane with “A CHIP Off The Old Block,” a narrative about growing up in Baltimore as the daughter of an entrepreneur whose oil business thrived in Baltimore for many years. Also, Shauna K. Henson, business coach and entrepreneur, lends tips on how to stop spending so much money to build your business in her business column, “Barter Baltimore.” In “Divine Intervention” we talk about community policing from a faith-based perspective and how the vision of one officer has blossomed into a civilian chaplaincy program that focuses on closing the gap of trust between citizens of the community and the police.

When I asked Mayor Pugh, “Are the children well? She responded: “In some places absolutely yes, and in some places, absolutely not.” And I say, politics is not the answer to that question. We are. We voted Mayor Pugh in office, trusting that she is going to bring her experience and success from the senatorial floor to the table at City Hall. So, while the chief is working all that out, my beloved Birdland warriors, how are we greeting each other in the streets? How many children outside our households and immediate families have we made a commitment to support – and not giving of convenience but giving of a sense of responsibility? I’m not as much concerned with what Mayor Pugh is doing at City Hall; her commitment to young people is clear. She’s the founder of Baltimore School for Design, and she’s the mayor who sent more than 3,500 youth to work this summer through the city’s YouthWorks initiative – a feat this city has never seen before. My concern is with the village. My hope is that we, the villagers, get it together – in our homes, our schools, and in our neighborhoods. Let us wake, rise, and manifest the City of Baltimore in living color. Live. Love. Be more.


Community Policing

Youth Explorers Program Fosters Trust Between Citizens, Police Growing up, Genara Lattimore

thought police only came around when there was trouble—or to start trouble. In her neighborhood, they were known as the “jump-out boys.” As a teenger, she’d had her share of negative encounters with the police. So when an officer “jumped” out of his car to buy her an ice cream cone, all she could do was ask, “Why?” “I was 16 at the time, and I did not like police. I grew up in Whitelock and when I saw police, they were the bad ones,” Lattimore said. “But he sat down and started talking to me about random stuff, asking me for my thoughts on how to make the playground in my neighborhood better. I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. It’s really nice police out there that’s going to help in the community.” That encounter inspired Lattimore to join the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) as a cadet. Eleven years later, she continues her journey in law enforcement as the officer-in-charge of the BPD’s Explorers program for youth ages 14 to 21. “I believe that the youth is where you start” said Lattimore. “You can make a difference if you start with the youth. For 30 years, Explorers has been facilitating positive encounters between youth and police within the community by providing a curriculum-based program that aims to cultivate youth into productive citizens

The Baltimore Urban Spectrum is looking for

Community & Event News and Freelance Writers Email your events and story ideas to:

BUSeditor@urbanspectrum.net

By Tiffany Christina

The Northwestern Wildcats played in the Baltimore City Police Department’s 1st Annual Unity Game, a fundraiser that supports the BPD’s Explorers program for youth 14-21, earlier this year. (Photo by Tiffany C Ginyard.)

through career development in law enforcement. The program recruits youth from across the city to interact with police officers in academic and recreational settings to learn about the history, structure, and culture of law enforcement. “We are empowering the next generation of law enforcement,” Lyn Twyman, Explorers’ program administrator, said. “By connecting youth with police we are building a bridge for home grown officers to enter into the BPD that understand the dynamics of the community.” Beyond creating pathways for youth to pursue a career with the police department, the program’s work is dedicated to strengthening the bonds of trust between young people and police that have deteriorated— since Officer Friendly left the school system, PAL centers were closed and more and more officers are caught on video misbehaving. An article in the Journal of Juvenile Justice, “Evaluation of a Program Designed to Promote Positive Police and Youth Interactions,” points to research that shows that young people’s feelings of confidence in police and respect for them are related to positive interactions they’ve had. Research also suggests youth who felt disrespected when stopped by police, or who had a negative, non-arrest experience with police, reported having less trust and respect for police than did other youth. Rico Thompson was one of the “other” youth. He started the

Explorers program at 15. He is now 20. “I saw the bad and the good [police officers]. But I was taught to respect them all, and [that] if I encountered one to let my parents know,” said Thompson. Even though he isn’t pursuing a career in law enforcement, he is proud of the leader the Explorers has molded him into. “I am a role model for my little brother. I am teaching him the appropriate ways to communicate with police officers,” he said. Among the program’s efforts to foster positive interactions between young people and police officers are monthly activities like Hotdogs With A Cop; Coffee With a Cop, ice skating and fundraisers to keep the program running. Explorers is a community outreach program of the Community Collaboration Division of the BPD, and is solely operated with the support of private donors, corporate sponsorships and individual contributions from BPD officers. A $25,000 donation from TD Bank has allowed the division to expand the program to a high school in each of the city’s nine geographic districts. Reginald F. Lewis, Patterson Park, Booker T. Washington, Edmondson Westside, and National Academy Foundation are among the pilot schools offering the Explorers pre-criminal justice course as an elective. The course also teaches to the program’s six pillars for success— character development, violence prevention, diversity, leadership, community service and career education.

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“Truthfully and honestly, this is overdue. We should’ve been doing this years ago, but you’ve got to start somewhere. And this is a good start. The relationships will get stronger and stronger as we move forward along,” said Officer John Hailey, a player on the BPD basketball team that plays against youth at the program’s annual unity fundraiser. Tension was thick between police officers and students that day. But all in fun and for a good cause— to raise money to keep the Explorers program going. “From my perspective, this is where we should be,” said Hailey, who’s worked in the Western District for 27 years. “Most of the time they only interact with police when they see us in our official capacity. This is an opportunity for them to see us in a completely different light to where they’re like ‘oh, they [the police] really are people.’” .


On the 11th Date She Rested…

An Interview:

By Tiffany Christina

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verybody is looking for something. And that something is love, whether we’re “looking in the all the wrong places” or not is always up for debate in the circles of other people’s opinions. But, what I have found is that my search for true love is truly a search for a sense of self-acceptance. I also learned that the search is neverending, because the more I seek to discover the boundless depths of all that I am, which is Love personified, my desire for more love continues to expand. After checking myself, I eventually attracted the man who shares that same virbrational desire to love himself as I do. It’s a challenge staying together, I soon discovered. But it’s worth it. When I found out that a former collegue of mine had written a book about my life, I cracked it open with no hesitation. Author Lillian Prince and I studied at Morgan State University together as English/Journalism majors. We shared notes, stories, and laughter under the instruction of the legendary Frank Dexter Brown, investigative journalist, filmmaker and social activist. What I didn’t know was that she was going through the same thing I was going through in my 20-something-year-old “situationship” life until I read her Prince’s debut title 10 Dates Later. Even though we hung in different social circles outside the classroom, I felt like I was back in college, in my best friend’s dorm room for a ladies night. So when I caught up with her to talk about her latest endeavor, I learned that she too had attracted her vibrational match, and was living happily-ever after on her own terms. Here’s a few clips from our cyber conversation. Baltimore Urban Spectrum: How and where did you meet him? Were you actively dating when you met your husband? Lillian Prince: I met my husband, Tim, over 10 years ago at a mutual friend’s house for game night. We played against each other in spades

“After finding myself in a situation where I was absolutely miserable, I realized the most important thing to me was protecting my peace.” —Lillian Prince, 10 Dates Later

and talked trash, but that was about it. We reconnected about four years ago via social media and it’s been love ever since. BUS: Does your husband measure up to 19-year-old Lillian’s Must Have list? Lillian: Well he is fly! LOL. But at 19 I didn’t know what or who I needed. Everything I thought I wanted in a man was so surface level and superficial.... there wasn’t really anything of substance on that list. He definitely lives up to my more current, and much shorter list of just being kind and caring... Those are the things that really matter. BUS: What are your words of wisdom to offer our sista friends regarding the Must Have list?

Lillian: Think about the things that will matter to you 10 years from now... Not just what makes you feel good now. Being fly is cute now, but does he have a 401k? Is he educated? Is he a good person that you can imagine waking up to for the rest of your life? Those are things you need to consider. BUS: How did the contents of it change over time? What changed your mind about what should be on your list? Lillian: Life happened. My perspective on things changed. You go through enough in life and you’ll quickly learn what’s of value and what isn’t. After finding myself in a situation where I was absolutely mis-

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erable, I realized the most important thing to me was protecting my peace. Being happy. Having a God-fearing man in my life, that would reverence not only his commitment to me, but more importantly the one he made with God. BUS: I’ve been following you on FB since our last days at Morgan State, and it looks like you have the Happily Ever After you always had in your dreams. I know the journey was not what you imagined, but was it worth the trek? What’s it like to have finally arrived? Lillian: Whew!! WAS IT?!?!?!? Lol! Tim is amazing. Definitely a dream come true and honestly, though I didn’t know it or even feel it back then, all of those horrible experiences were preparing me for this. I love and appreciate him that much more because I already know what’s out there and I know I’m not missing anything. I have everything I need and more right at home. BUS: What are the top 3 things a woman should be mindful of when on the dating scene? Should we be out there looking? Or should we see dating as an opportunity to learn ourselves, and get to know our likes and dislikes, what we can and cannot live with, tolerate and can’t do without? Lillian: You know, when I was single I would HATE for a married person, or someone in a relationship to tell me “just be patient... as soon as you stop looking, he’ll find you.” So, I won’t say that but what I will say is, don’t be anxious for anything, especially not a relationship that is supposed to last for a lifetime. The Bible says in Phillippians, “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in all things through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” I know, because I fell victim to it— when you’re anxious because of a deadline you’ve placed on yourself you don’t make wise decisions. Your mind isn’t clear, you’re not calm and you’re more focused on what you want, than the actual package. With any big decision, especially when it comes to matters of the heart, take a moment, say a prayer, ask for guidance because marriage is nothing to be rushed into. It’s a big deal... it’s much more than just the one day with the flowers and beautiful people. It’s a lifetime of sacrifice, and love, and trials, and rewards and so many other things. You have to make sure that the person you’re going to do life with can handle all those peaks and valleys with you. . Editor’s note: Lillian Prince, a District of Columbia native and Morgan State University alumni, is the author of title 50 Dates Later, available on Amazon.com.


    

By Angela Gustus



pring of 1984, sitting in Mrs. Scheck’s class faced with the assignment to write two poems. The first: April showers Help flowers But they make People wet

An absolutely appropriate literary work of an 8-year-old. The second poem, I have to believe was a gift from my Heavenly Father. Not just because he helped me to finally finish my assignment so that I could go out for recess with my class, but because these words became my life’s mantra. Use Everything You Have To Do Everything You Do Because Everything You Do Is A CHIP Off Of You

These words have stuck with me my entire life. They have helped me figure out so many situations growing up in Baltimore City. As a privileged little girl, I grew up in an area called “Upper Park Heights� and my mother made a point to use the “Upper� in that description because it is indicative of the separation of which side of the tracks we lived on. But in our case, it was that side of Northern Parkway we lived on. My father, on the other hand, did everything he could to keep us grounded and humble. To him, we lived off of Park Heights Avenue. My parents, Rudolph and Harvadene Gustus, were an accomplished, powerful Black couple in Baltimore City. My father, AKA Big Rudy, moved to Baltimore with an 8th grade education from a small town in Virginia, with nothing but a smart mind, a serious work ethic, and a dream of being rich. As the story goes, he and his dad had a little gambling joint down on “The Avenue,� more

formally known as Pennsylvania Avenue. He drove delivery trucks during the day to places that would not allow him to even use the bathroom because of the melanin in his skin. He and his father ran the joint at night. Once he saved up enough money to buy his first Oil truck – the rest was history. G&M Oil Inc. was created and just over a decade later he was listed in the coveted Black Enterprise Magazine’s 100 Top Black Owned Businesses in the United States. G&M Oil grew to a multi-million dollar company. My sister, Camille, and I never knew what struggling was. We went to an all-girls, private, and predominately white school where we could ride horses, play tennis, or study by the duck pond. We’d spend summers on our boat that was docked over by the Hanover Street Bridge. On weekends, we would take the boat and dock it at the Harbor. Friends and family would come and marvel at what we knew as our second home. With the wonderful and privileged life that we lived back in the ‘80s, it was daddy’s priority that he would not raise two bratty “county� girls. He declared on many occasions, “Those little rich white girls will never be your friends. You are there for an education.� What a confusing thing to a kid who was the only brown face in the entire third grade class. To continually drive his plan of raising us to love our city, he kept us in the city as much as possible. A typical Saturday morning started with a trip to “the carry-out� on The Avenue. We walked in to a boisterous, “Good morning Mr. Rudy!� They had the best breakfast food in town. Followed by a trip to Lexington Market, Daddy and I would go to the Shoe Shine Man. He made cloth dance over your shoes while music vibrated through his every move. Not only were my

penny loafers shining, but my soul was lifted. We would then stop by the office on Warwick and Baker. Daddy would open up the big safe and let us take out as many coins as our little hands could carry. We stayed in the heart of the city. My life was filled with polar opposites. The girls at school did not understand my life outside of school and my friends in the neighborhood did not understand my life at school. I was a walking conundrum.

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CHIP saved me. Those simple words taught me about reputation. It helped me understand that everything that I did made a mark on other people. It meant something to be with Big Rudy’s walking the streets of Baltimore, and I took that seriously. Especially since I knew that he would find out anything that I did, right or wrong. CHIP helped me to realize that I must have some kind of talent if I am supposed to “Use Everything You Have.â€? What that talent was? For a long time I did not know. I was diagnosed with a learning disability early on, so I was never slotted to be a valedictorian. Despite my height, I was not good at basketball, or any other sport. Although I had plenty of melanin in my skin, I could not dance and had no rhythm. In middle school, after being the only Black kid in the class for years and never getting an award, I was given the “Friendship Award.â€? I truly believe that they made that crap up, but nobody will admit to it. With CHIP, my Daddy, the conundrum I called life, and a love for my city, I remained grounded. I stayed focused. Forty years later, I am still here‌ but I did move to the county.. Editor’s note: Angela Gustus is the executive director of Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Inc. Her book entitled, “Chipâ€? is available at amazon.com.


By Our Hands or Not at All?

Black Food Sovereignty for Baltimore’s Black Food Problems By Eric Jackson, Jr.

H

Part I in a two-part series ouston, we have a problem: racism continues to perpetuate food dependence in Baltimore. I have been pondering for some time now on this issue. In this twopart series, I offer perspectives on the root causes of inequities in Baltimore’s food system. This article also asserts the need for and explores the prospect of using “black food sovereignty” as a frame to achieve group power and to ultimately transform our local food system. What if the “food access” ideological frame perpetuates inequities? Is it enough for people to merely have access to food? Where are people accessing the food from? Does this support the corporate-controlled food, globally? Who does the “food access” frame really benefit economically, politically, socially, culturally (overall well-being within the social determinants of health framework) on the local levels? These are some fundamental questions that, once answered truthfully, appear to shine light on some fundamental barriers and complexities that make it difficult to achieve desired outcomes asserted by experts and advocates—reducing so-called food deserts. It seems analogous to put money and energy into fixing a door on a dilapidated building. It just does not make much sense. The faces of the food movement in Baltimore are predominantly White women who are not anchored in Baltimore, a city of predominantly Black people. Interesting? What about the reality of that Black people, unlike other groups, have our water, land and food are all owned, managed and provided by others. Additionally, the funding of food, health and agricultural research and interventions in Baltimore City have predominantly gone to organizations headed by our White brothers and sisters and contribute to this pattern of undermining efforts to undo racism in the local food system. The truth is the limited (or lack of) power of Black people (as a group) to control our food, land and water is the issue—not access to these things. There is little public focus on limiting

the sale of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—products of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. There are, in my opinion, minimal efforts being made toward promoting and supporting land ownership, food production, and community-based cooperative business development.

ances. Hunger and food access approaches, at best, feed people for a time and support the global industrial food regime, according to Eric HoltGimenez, executive director of Food First, an organization dedicated to amplifying voices of communities and movements by advancing solutions (www.foodfirst.org). The approach behind these efforts is based on the sciences of the domi-

School of Public Health (Center for a Livable Future) shares that approximately 34 percent of Black people live in one of these areas. This percentage of Black people has changed for the worst since the 2012 report revealed that 25 percent of my people lived in an area where healthy, affordable food access is scarce. In Baltimore, since the original full report, Black people (over 63 percent of the City’s population—a

Strength to Love II, is an urban farm located between Kavanaugh and Mullen Streets in West Baltimore across from the former Stop, Shop and Save site.

One in 5 Baltimoreans live in a “food desert,” an are where grocery stores with fresh food are not measly accessible.

The beneficiaries, economically speaking, of Baltimore’s current “food access” and “food retail” efforts are primarily multi-national and global conglomerates in the “grocery scene.” Brothers and sisters from other ethnic groups are making bank in our neighborhoods. These efforts are not only supporting non-Black group empowerment, but in many ways they support the premature deaths and disease of African people in Baltimore. They also undermine efforts of food sovereignty, generally, and Black food sovereignty, in particular. The efforts of our city leaders have focused heavily on the adoption of land and less (if any) on the ownership of land. Without the promise of land and property, it is impossible to really address the disproportionality issues. In addition, the well-intentioned tactics currently used (like community meals programs, food pantries, healthy food in corner stores, and securing food retailers to Baltimore, to name a few), while they meet needs on some levels, they also are unsustainable and perpetuate power imbal-

Three years ago, Stop Shop and Save was located here at 1400 N. Monroe Steet. Stop Shop and Save, a minority-owned grocery store chain, operated in Baltimore since 1978 until it closed its last store in 2014--leaving neighborhoods across the city without convenient access to a grocery store.

nant, European-centered culture’s definition of “healthy food,” and essentially contributes too many of dietand lifestyle-related illnesses among Black people. Exhibit A: MyPlate, a food guide system designed to empower the American public to make healthy food choice provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is not an African-centered or African-designed nutritional system. Inherent in the usage of MyPlate for African people is that all measures can be used for all people if it is approved by White people. This approach limits Africans in Baltimore from defining our problems and using our approaches to address our problems in the public sphere. First, so-called food deserts, as defined and redefined by our local “leaders in food access,” are still dry. Since 2009, the data has not changed very much, except in the number of Black people, who live, eat and love in areas with limited access to healthy affordable food. In fact, the 2015 Food Environment Report by Baltimore City government and Johns Hopkins’

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majority), Black people’s food plight has increased by 9 percent. It is significant to note that this 9 percent increase has incurred while the overall population increased 5 percent (from 20 percent in 2012 and 25 percent in 2015). This is consistent with other manifestations of racism/white supremacy— the problem. Baltimore has data that point to institutional, systemic and structural racism and other constructs of oppression. Somehow, the discourse is not producing pragmatic solutions to addressing what the “experts” call food deserts. Food access (and the lack thereof) is a symptom not the problem – inequities born from racism, classism and capitalism. Ivory tower research and dialogues, “community conversations,” other awareness tactics and larger strategies are well-intentioned but not enough. In short, while our city “leaders” are attempting to feed the Black community in Baltimore City, it is also feeding racism/white supremacy by catalyzing disease, death and disempowerment. .


Baltimore Urban Spectrum August 2017  

In partnership with the award winning Denver Urban Spectrum, the Baltimore Urban Spectrum online publication inaugural issue premieres featu...

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