One Black Teen’s Life in Baltimore

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Scott Thompson II is currently a freshman at Baltimore City College high school. Image © by James G. Howes
Scott Thompson II currently attends Baltimore City College high school. Image © by James G. Howes

Thirteen-year-old Scott Thompson II is a bright kid enrolled at Baltimore’s top magnet school, and he’s got a family that “won’t allow [him] to not be something.” But at the same time, he hasn’t lived a sheltered life. Baltimore’s violence came home to him two years ago, when his father was killed in a shooting. He finds strength in a supportive social network, writing poetry, and his determination not “to become the embodiment of what’s happening in my city.”

Thompson is profiled at The Atlantic in an article titled “A Black Boy in Baltimore.” Thompson’s nuanced perspective makes for an interesting read. “I know what’s wrong with my city, but it’s still [mine],” he told The Atlantic. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” He also says he has “nothing against the police,” just “against bad or abusive police.”

But the human-interest piece is more than the story of an individual who through sheer force of will attempts to overcome adversity. It’s also a look at the emotional trauma sustained as one grows up amid violence, racism, and poverty — and the things one does to cope.

In his poetry, Thompson wrestles with the personal and political forces that shape his life. But he copes socially, too. He’s fostered a close relationship with an older male cousin he looks up to, and he’s leaned on his old Southwest Baltimore Charter School classmates, who he says are “honestly like brothers.”

The article points out that “despite the widespread impact [of violence and victimization] on [black] children and teens, few receive support and services to treat their trauma.”

Read the article at The Atlantic.


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