Real Talk on “The Two Baltimores”

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Photo of D Watkins by Stacey Watkins
Photo of D Watkins by Stacey Watkins

It’s been great getting to know the work of D Watkins, a Baltimore writer who writes essays about the joys and struggles and contrasts of being born and raised in East Baltimore. Watkins’s latest essay, “Stoop Stories,” opens with Watkins’s invitation to speak at the popular Stoop Storytelling series. As soon as he walked through the lobby, Watkins writes, he realized it was one of those events:

By ‘those events’ I mean a segregated Baltimore show that blacks don’t even know about. I walked through a universe of white faces wondering, how is this even possible? How could we be in the middle of Baltimore, a predominantly black city where African Americans make up more than 60 per cent of the population, at a sold-out event, with no black people – except for me and the friends I brought?

Watkins touches on the 4,672 slaves living in Baltimore in 1810, his brother’s murder, the Ugg-booted white girls of Loyola University, and the challenges of communication across race/class/neighborhood lines. Here’s more:

Black Baltimore is all about Grey Goose vodka, Hennessey cognac, crack sales, making money and running to the outskirts of the city, playing basketball, paying $40 to get into parties with $15 drinks, cookouts, corner stores, being harassed by cops, pit bulls, dirt bikes, church, diabetes, and staying in black areas.

White Baltimore, which in most cases is only two miles away from these black areas, is all about Ketel One or Stoli vodka, Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Coke, sniffing coke, labradors, eating outside, free entrance into clubs where you buy one drink and get another free, barbecues, free-range chickens, playing Frisbee, jogging, being loved by cops, and staying in white areas.

Read the whole thing here.

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