Do You See What I See?

WYONETTA JOHNSON

December 02, 1992|By WYONETTA JOHNSON

The neighborhood where I grew up no longer exists. The Baltimore that was so important to me is no more. The real sense of community that I felt as a young child seems to be lost for young African Americans.

Once there were families that shared common goals and dreams -- of trying to make life better for their children and themselves. Now the parents' main concern is centered around the mere survival of their children.

Instead of neighborhoods where the people next door as well as those around the corner knew you and your parents, there is an unnecessary stretch of highway. Route 40 and the towering high-rise projects now stand in place of my home and the homes of my friends. When the city choose to tear down these homes we were told that it was for the good of the entire community. I often wonder what good was accomplished by completely changing a community where 30 years later the sounds of guns can be heard over the sounds of children.

Instead of a neighborhood where children walk to school together, play in each other's homes, have parties in their basements and back yards, spend Saturdays at the movies, we now have neighborhoods where crime is an everyday occurrence.

Instead of children sitting on steps and playing on sidewalks on warm summer nights, we have parents fearful for their children's safety because of drive-by shootings. What is a community when its children can't play and enjoy themselves?

Instead of families where most fathers went off to work, we now have fathers who want to work standing around on corners. Instead of schools where the teachers both expected and demanded that their students learn, where students competed for good grades, where teachers came to your home when necessary, we have educators who are fearful of the students they have to teach.

What is now Martin Luther King Boulevard was the street where I used to walk with my friends on the way to school or, on the weekend, to Lexington Market. Instead of homes, there are cars hurrying people on their way to and from work in a city they care very little about except as a place of employment or somewhere to come for entertainment.

Instead of a trolley system similar to what we had years ago, a system that many of the city's people could ride and enjoy, we have light rail. This system runs between Timonium and Glen Burnie and through the city, but is of no real service to the people of the city.

The city now has Oriole Park at Camden Yards, sitting there in all it's grandeur; but not very many blocks away children and parents have to worry about the sound of guns instead of the sounds of cheers. Instead of the bases loaded, the guns are loaded; instead of home runs, people run to their homes, away from harm -- sometimes death!

Through the city people come, on Martin Luther King Boulevard, on Route 40, on the subway and the light rail. Perhaps since they are riding so fast on their way to their destinations, they have not noticed what Baltimore has become.

Take away the Inner Harbor, Oriole Park, the Lyric, Center Stage, the Meyerhoff, and look at the city where people must live. We can't get into our cars and ride out of the city; we are here in the city. The city is our home. On your way in and out, take a good look!

Wyonetta Johnson is a student at Sojourner Douglass College.

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