Inequities of Baltimore Black Youth

Inequities of Baltimore Black Youth


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



  We should not join the Right and the White Nationalists in their anti-black youth rhetoric. We should

be looking for more and more ways we can support youth responses to their social and class oppression.



Statistics on the Inequities Facing

Baltimore’s African-American Youth

A Response to Anti-Black Youth Rhetoric

By Rudolph Lewis


Below is a report of what’s happening to Baltimore’s young  people. Startling statistics! I send these out partially as a response to E. Ethelbert Miller‘s flippant remark “I don’t want to follow kids.” In that piece maybe he meant well. Maybe he intended to inspire his generation to be more active in fighting back against the Right-Wing takeover of everything American. But in doing so, it seemed to me he piled on with and encouraged more stereotypical responses to black youth in our communities. His comments were reposted on E-Drum recently and then there were other responders who chimed in with E’s point of view.

I am not suggesting that Mosley should not be criticized for some positions he takes in his essay “A New Black Power“: his call for young people to lead the revolt against their oppression or his call for a black party. From my view Mosley’s essay contains good sound ideas, as far as they go, especially his encouragement of black youth political activity. Last week, here in Baltimore we had a three-day protest led primarily by Baltimore High School students against proposed “reforms” to Baltimore education. These are top-down reforms, led and suggested by hired efficiency experts and local black politicos, primarily interested in personal comfort and in political office. These reforms had nothing to do with participatory democracy and the necessary reforms and support of black education.

These reforms have more to do with the state trying to save money rather than putting the needed resources into black education. There were few adults involved in protesting against this dumbing down of black education. Few teachers, no teachers union, few of the responsible leaders of the City Council or black state delegates or parents led this revolt, or joined in wholeheartedly. Most stood on the sidelines and many teachers and politicos tried to prevent students from jointing the protest. These students took their destiny in their own hands, for the benefit of black education for all students and those students to come. This image of “kids” is too often obscured for those more negative ones we find on TV news and in films.

Though I am not against Mosley’s big ideas organizing, it is usually the small, loosely connected associations that do most of the necessary on the ground work. And they are not doing this work to get paid, like our big-time operators and public intellectuals. Those students protesting at City Hall took their social responsibility seriously ( They should be applauded and supported.

I am sure all of us can name many like minded young people, who ain’t just out for the “bling.” One such young person that I greatly admire, and whose lead I would follow, is a student at UMBC. I just met him recently. He looks like he’s about 16 years old. His name is Rodney Foxworth, Jr. Though distant in age, I think I have a fairly good relationship with him.

I think he’s smart as a whip. He has been writing for the local City Paper. We have posted a few pieces of his on ChickenBones. Keep in mind MLK was not all that old when he began his political career. Also remember those high school kids who were involved in the civil rights struggle in Prince Georges County, Virginia and in Cambridge, Maryland, and in Alabama and other Deep South cities who went to prison, who faced the dogs and the fire hoses–they were teens. Also, Carmichael  wasn’t that old when he left Howard and went South.

Check the writings of Rodney Foxworth: A Report on a Gathering  at Red Emma’s  and A Naïve Political Treatise. It is these kinds of young people I think Mosley had in mind. It is these young people who should indeed be encouraged, supported, and followed. We need fewer of the cute responses that E is putting out in disparagement of young people. Maybe we can’t put together the big organization kind of thing that Mosley calls for, even if they are necessary. But we can work more effectively and efficiently in our loose associations, and with young people like Rodney Foxworth. And maybe through these relationships we can get where Mosley think we should be.

The relationship of the supporters of ChickenBones is one instance of a loose association. Their donations and their suggestions and correspondence have been priceless. And they aren’t all black, and they aren’t all of E’s generation. Another ongoing relationship has been between ChickenBones and E-Drum that has continued for five years. Kalamu ya Salaam with his E-Drum and his Breath of Life has set an extraordinary model for us to follow. He has worked tirelessly in providing services for us all for over seven years–no money was charged.

And the ongoing relationship I have had with a number of writers, including Kalamu, Marvin X, Louis Reyes Rivera, Jonathan Scott, Miriam DeCosta-Willis, Jeannette Drake, Amin Sharif  and many others, is also in that mold. I think we have established a model that should be replicated across the country. Let a thousand ChickenBones bloom! Let a thousand loose associations pop up and thrive to counter the Conservative and White Nationalist propaganda machines. These kinds of relationships between activist persons of different generations can also be established.

We can more effectively make use of cyberspace, that is, beyond self promotion. We can move in a concerted way, as Jonathan Scott suggests in his Notes on Political Education, to restructure the brains of Americans, so that we can see matters more clearly  beyond the obfuscation of issues by the right wing, mainstream media, and Republicrat political operatives.

Again, check out the statistics below. Rodney Foxworth sent them to us. The State and too many of its citizens make War on Black Youth by their stereotypes of our “kids.” I’d like to hear more from E on this subject and issue. We should not join the Right and the White Nationalists in their anti-black youth rhetoric. We should be looking for more and more ways we can support youth responses to their social and class oppression. We must move away from our own personal stardom, our narrow class and age perspectives. We have to be more gracious and giving of ourselves, for the greater good of our larger communities, and for America.

 *   *   *   *   *

The Inequities Facing Baltimore’s African-American Youth

 Statistics Show that African-American Youth Are:



During the 2000-01 school year, 1 in 6 African-American students was suspended in Baltimore City schools. African-Americans from Baltimore alone account for almost 20% of the state’s suspensions.


76% of Baltimore’s children are African-American and are 20% White. But African-American youth make up 88% of Baltimore’s juvenile arrests, while white youth account for only 11% of juvenile arrests.


Once Baltimore youth are arrested, formal proceedings are commenced against African-Americans (91%) more often than Whites (10%).


Of Baltimore’s youth sent to secure detention facilities, African-Americans make up 94%, and White youth constitute only 6%.


Maryland has one of the nation’s highest rates of racial disparity in incarceration. More than 5.6% of the state’s African-American men were incarcerated in 2000.

More than 9 out of 10 youth charged as adults in Baltimore City are African American, they are almost twice as likely to go to prison as white youth.

An African-American man in Maryland is 10.2 times more likely to be incarcerated than a White male. Maryland locks up a disproportionate number of African-American youth:

African-American youth are 32 % of the Maryland’s youth population, but represent 64 % of detained youth, and 72 % of youth committed to Maryland state facilities after adjudication.

African-American youth represent the overwhelming majority of youth at the Cheltenham youth facility (82%).  Nationally, as well as here in Maryland, recidivism rates for institutions are abysmal: 8 out of 10 youth will be re-arrested following release from an institution. Only 20 percent of all youth remain arrest free. And yet Maryland commits 70 percent of its $200 million dollar juvenile justice budget to institutional and residential programming.


1. Suspension, Expulsions, and Health Related Exclusions, Maryland Public Schools, 2000-2001, by the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Planning, Results, and Information Management (January 1, 2002).

2.Annual Statistical Report, Fiscal Year 2000, by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice, March 2002.

3. Hobbling a Generation: Young African American Males in the Criminal Justice System of America’s Cities: Baltimore, Maryland, by Jerome G. Miller, National Center for Institutions and Alternatives, September 1992.

4. Punishment and Prejudice, by Human Rights Watch, 2000.

5. Youth Crime/Adult Time: Is Justice Served? Prepared for the Building Blocks for Youth initiative by Jolanta Juszkiewicz, Pretrial Services Resource Center, October 2000.

6. And Justice for Some. Prepared for the Building Blocks for Youth initiative by Eileen Poe-Yamagata and Michael Jones, April, 2000.

7. Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice Cheltenham Youth Facility: Youth Profiles and Population Projections, Annie E. Casey Foundation and National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Richard G. Wiebush et al., February 1996.

Statistical Information Furnished by Rodney Foxworth, Jr.

Document Source: Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY)  

*   *   *   *   *


Comments on Student Protest at Baltimore’s City Hall

By Rodney D. Foxworth, Jr.



March 3, 2006 

I’m just about fed up with this nonsense, and I’ve been out of Baltimore City Public Schools since 2002. I’m going along with my cousin to tomorrow’s protest. The state is clearly missing the point. These students know that they are gettin’ the shaft, ’cause they’ve been getting the shaft for the past 12 years. For example, this Sun report notes that the school system is built to house 125000 students, but only has an enrollment of 85000. Tell me, if they had enough space to shut down schools, why are some classrooms saddled with in excess of 30 plus students?

The Sun once reported that Pimilico Middle had classrooms with as many as 40 students! How are they using all this space! And now the state rep is saying he’s concerned that the student protestors are missing too much time from school. Never mind the fact that well over 50 percent of Baltimore students don’t even graduate. The majority of the protestors are amongst the more academically talented students in the city, and he’s talkin’ about them missing some school time. Hello? If these kids don’t do any pushing, then who will? Ok, I’ve done my rant. Peace.—Rodney

March 3, 2006 

I have been home for a few moments, and I am allowing my body to defrost. It was a chilly one today. I’ll be giving a more detailed report/impression of today’s events once I get my thoughts together and warm up. I’ll give you my initial impression, and I would like to mention this first: The ENTIRE three day strike was organized by a group of students. High school students. This means that their ages ranged between 13 and 18. Impressive if you ask me. Was the event disorganized a bit? Yes. Could it have run more smoothly? Yes. But none of that matters. These kids actually sat down with O’Malley today, face to face. After that, one of the student activists, in response to O’Malley’ claim that capping classrooms to 20 students was “unreasonable,” this student called O’ Malley a coward. It was clear that some of the protestors were there simply to miss school, but a great deal of them were committed and well informed. Dr. Andre Bundley gave a 5 minute Jesse Jackson impression, rhyming and what have you. But the kids ran this whole thing, with minimal adult intervention. This, I think, is very impressive and it should give us all hope. It was a good showing and I’m proud of all those involved. We all should be.—Rodney

March 4, 2006

Already Doug Duncan has politicized the recent school protests, and I suppose that he would be foolish as a politician to not do so. Politicians are interested in money and votes, and a logical person might assume that this event and the whole debacle of the schools would divert votes away from O’Malley. But this won’t be the case. The student protestors have already identified O’ Malley as a coward, now it is time for their parents to realize that he is, after all, an ambitious politician.

Now, his buddy Brian Morris has laid blame at the feet of Duncan for “fighting in 1997 to preserve state funding formulas that benefited Montgomery but ‘were depriving Baltimore students of their constitutionally mandated education.'” He also wants Duncan to redirect monies from Montgomery County schools to the BCPSS. Of course, the Baltimore voters will be pimped by both O’Malley and Duncan, and this is to be expected. But what is disheartening is that these students have managed to organize themselves in a better fashion than their parents. Too many harped that the kids should not have missed school time to conduct this protest.

If we were collectively concerned about these kids’ education, more of us might have been out their in support of them, or, have organized an event ourselves. Over 50 percent of the students don’t graduate, 74 percent if you’re a black male. And yet missing three days of school raises the ire of some people? I personally think that these kids are capable of doing a “bottom-up” approach to organizing. That is, they are capable of politicizing their parents. They need help of course. Conceivably, the students represent something in the way of 85,000 votes. I know that this is too large a number; it is likely far lower than this. And I understand that what I call for sounds idealistic, but what else can we do? Continued protests won’t do it, as it has failed before.

Attending PTA meetings and voicing your opinion won’t do it either, that too has failed. I know this because I’ve been there with my mother in the past few years. Alternative methods have to be developed, no more playing soft ball. Appeals to conscience seem to have no place in today’s politics. Kids are able to convince their parents into buying them $300 IPods and $150 shoes. Can they too sway their vote? One of the protestors was right to observe that those without children in the school system ought not have a say about what happens with the schools. How on point.

O’Malley got into office with the black vote, and he can be kept out of the governor’s office if he doesn’t get the black vote. Can he defeat Duncan in the primary without the black vote? This is how, I thank, we need to come to the table of politicians. You can’t simply hope that they will do right by you, you have to barter, and votes are currency. But O’Malley is smart. He knows that black Baltimoreans will still vote for him. Why wouldn’t they? We aren’t exactly shoving the idea down the throats of Baltimore parents that he or any other politician is indifferent to their kids. You have to force their collective hand. Power concedes nothing. 

I know that this is naive and simplified and scatter shot, but I am just rambling and what else can be done to prevent this continued mis-education of our youth? They are being ill prepared for anything in this world. This is something that we can organize around, using the student protestors as the impetus, or rather, the student protestors using us. They have the talent, commitment and the organizing skills that most of the city’s parents might never acquire in two lifetimes.

They know that the powers-that-be have no vested interest in them. As Mosley suggested, we need to listen to the young. And this time, they weren’t telling us about “bitches,” “hoes,” and material goods, they were telling us that the city and the state and all those involved are not giving them a fair shake. This is what they were telling us as they chanted “We deserve a fair fight, education is our right” in the streets. It’s about time we start listening and come up with ideas and strategy to assist them along the way.—Rodney



You state that this is a condition particular to Baltimore, but I read a book, Zero Tolerance, that gives examples and clearly indicates this scenario is repeated from coast to coast. The weapons violations, unruly behavior and the overrepresentation of Black youth in “special” classes are indicative of a well throughout plan being implemented. And the worst aspect may be that profits from institutionalization or long term employment gained through high incarceration levels are the driving motive.—Charles Henry

It was not my intent to say that this situation is just in Baltimore. Matter of fact, it is replicated throughout the nation. It is a national policy. I refer you also to Ron Walters’ book, White Nationalism, Black Interests ,Chapter 7, “The War on Blacks: Criminalizing a Race.”  And you should also check out Chapter 8 of the same text, “Attacking Black Access to Education.” It deals with K-12 as well as colleges and universities. But I think we need to put forth local situations in order that the argument is more specific, more personal, more immediate. Wherever you are, you probably should do the same.—Rudy

You make some really good points, Rudy.  We have to be very careful about generalizing about any group of people—young, old, Black, Asian, women, men, White, Gays, etc.  There are some wonderful, committed young people out there who are our future hope; there are also some crack-headed, criminalized young people out there;  between those two extremes, there is a majority of young folk who are just trying to survive, to live to see another day.  We must have compassion for all of them and try to help in any way that we can.—Miriam  

posted 7 March 2006

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today.

*   *   *   *   *

Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

“Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *



posted 22 July 2008




Home    Civil Rights: Struggle for Black Power    Hip Hop Table  Table for the Education History of the Negro

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.