Friday, July 8, 2022



As we waited at the light my husband noted the police and emergency vehicles.

“Something happened here,” he said, noting that someone was on the ground.

Photo credit: Baltimore Sun Media Group

Motorist shot to death after pulling baseball bat in confrontation with downtown Baltimore squeegee  workers, Andy Kostka, Emily Opilo and Lea Skene for the Baltimore Sun 

“Squeegee kids” is how they are often labeled and complained about in the local press. People write letters to the editor. Newspapers write piece after piece about the problem of the squeegee kids. Politicians pontificate. Almost one hundred per cent of their “hot takes” are from white people who have no idea what it is like to be in the shoes of the young Black Baltimoreans whose existence they decry.

I’m not here to discuss whether or not you have had a bad experience with the squeegee kids. That’s the small picture. Looking at the small picture will never reveal the truth of this situation or help bring about any positive, lasting solution. 

As a teacher and a parent I have come to look at this issue as one of logical consequences. When you look at how Black residents have been treated in Baltimore, generation after generation, you see that young people trying to earn a bit of money on street corners is the logical consequence of what has come before. 

  • Redlining prevented home ownership and forced Black families into less desirable neighborhoods 
  • City services and improvements focused on the white L part of town and neglecting the Black Butterfly
  • Police brutality and excessive police stops and arrests targeting Black neighborhoods
  • Black neighborhoods destroyed by “urban renewal” and highway building
  • Schools in predominantly Black neighborhoods given fewer resources and more likely to be closed 
  • Rental properties in Black neighborhoods in disrepair, owned by predatory landlords, lead paint unremediated, residents poisoned
Black Baltimoreans have been systematically denied opportunity for well over a hundred years but, for goodness sake, let’s get bent out of shape about squeegee kids.

Please read this article by Ron Cassie in Baltimore Magazine.

The squeegee kids are on street corners and at intersections in Baltimore because generations of decisions and actions by white people in power put them there. They are a symptom of systemic racism. Most people would rather blame the symptom than address the disease. 

One more thing: A white motorist pulled his car over, parked, and came after young people with a baseball bat last night. 

Maybe we should talk about that, too.

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