Thursday, July 8, 2010
(Thursday, July 8, 2010) Youth and youth advocates stood in front of City Hall demanding a meeting with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Governor Martin O'Malley to discuss investing in youth jobs.
Led by The Baltimore Algebra Project (BAP), a student ran organization comprised of Baltimore City youths, the small crowd gathered in the sweltering heat to make their voices heard. For months, the group along with other youth programs have clamored to be heard by public officials as jobs for youth decline while efforts to build more juvenile detention centers increased.
As a result, BAP claims public officials are perpetuating a vicious cycle where youth are led through the school-to-prison pipeline. According to BAP member Bryant Muldrew, there have been several attempts to reach out to the mayor's office but they were repeatedly ignored.
I can only described this as neglect on the behalf of state government and parents who stand idly by and do nothing. An epic failure in not only youth empowerment, but community development. A $100 million investment in a new juvenile facility is a denouncement of our future and an abandonment of our responsibilities.
People fail to realize this point because "Team Do Right" never had that many cheerleaders, so therefore it wasn't popular. I'm not going to get into bashing public official—even though some do deserve it—instead I will say that priorities and goals for Baltimore City are a little twisted. If we are to be serious about preparing city youth for success we need to place them in the position to do so. No, that position is not behind bars.
Don't get me wrong; juvenile offenders need to be held accountable for their actions. If a child picks up a gun and shoots someone, he needs to face the consequences. However, for kids that WANT to succeed there needs to be opportunities in place for them to do so. The agonizing fact is the streets of Baltimore offer plenty of opportunities.
If a kid wants to be a dope dealer, the door is wide open for him to flood the corners with it. I've been inside the classroom and I can honestly say we're fighting for their lives. We are competing for their respect and their attention; because once their attention shifts they are ONLY facing the edge of a cliff.