By Joel Epstein*
I am Baltimore. Je suis Baltimore. Yo soy Baltimore. Nosotros somos Baltimore.
And we are standing united against the hate emanating from the national disgrace temporarily infesting the White House.
I am Baltimore but I am also physically in the city; the latest victim of the pandering to the millions of not yet woke racists in this country who buy the so-called president’s snake oil even though it leaves them morally and financially bankrupt. Yes, millions of us are not yet woke racists. It is time to own our country’s racism.
I am in Baltimore helping my son move into a new apartment. He relocated from State College. Not a bad place but not a vibrant city either. The home of Penn State University and the recidivist pedophile Jerry Sandusky. Like our so-called president, Sandusky victimized a community. In his case it was young boys. In the case of the hater in chief, it is the entire country and world. We are a poorer place because of our national disgrace and the vile lies he spews daily. But this is nothing new to those who are sentient.
Being in Baltimore is resistance and I am proud of my son who has chosen to make Charm City his home. We are white and privileged. The modicum of discrimination we have suffered pales in comparison to that experienced daily by African Americans, Native Americans and immigrants to this country.
Given that privilege I cannot imagine the pain the so-called president’s words and actions cause. But I can stand with those harmed and insulted by his racism and hate.
I can walk the streets of Charm City, shop in its stores and eat in its restaurants. I can ride its impressive transit network and enjoy its bucolic parks and historic monuments to leaders worthy of our respect. I can marvel at Baltimore’s cultural treasures and achievements and its academic jewels including the Johns Hopkins University which are improving, rather than tearing down, the collective project in Democracy that the non haters among us are building. I, and you, can resist intolerance and hate by visiting Baltimore and taking in its natural beauty and the beauty of its built environment. Its block after block of architectural masterpieces that the deplorable in chief and his ilk will never know. And we can show respect for its residents. The respect so lacking in the so-called president’s everyday words and actions.
There is a cold place in hell for the so-called president and all of those who echo and dignify him with their support. The sooner he and his entourage are gone the sooner this country will be on the road to a more just and equitable society that cares for us all.
This trip to Baltimore is one of resistance but it is something more. After too long away, it is a chance to celebrate with my son and his girlfriend an optimistic vision of a world that judges everyone by the content of his or her character rather than the color of her or his skin or national origin.
We will survive the White House infestation and the hate and damage the world is currently enduring. And like the phoenix that is Baltimore and the countless other places redlined by the haters among us, we will rise anew.
Yours in transit,
*Joel Epstein is a New Yorker and an advocate for livable cities and public space.