Lawrence Brown

Lawrence Brown

Lawrence Brown is a political activist, public health consultant, and history aficionado. He has partnered with community groups in East Baltimore to devise strategies to assist residents who were displaced from their community by EBDI and Johns Hopkins University. Lawrence has collaborated with the labor advocacy group Community Churches United and testified at Baltimore council hearings regarding displacement, development, and local hiring practices. He is also an assistant professor of public health at Morgan State University.

Contributions:

Todd Heisler/The New York Times. See: "Following King’s Path, and Trying to Galvanize a New Generation," New York Times, August 24, 2013.

We have a tendency to view the history of the Civil Rights movement through a messianic lens, as if Christ came in the form of a King and paid the price for us. But the reality is that there is a price we must each pay today because the work is not yet done. If we are to truly overcome and secure social justice and racial equity, if we are to triumph over the triple evils of racism, materialism, and militarism, if we are to seize power over the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, then we must set aside the dominant yet dangerous superficial and superstitious reading and understanding of the struggle for African American liberation.

Image source: http://www.theatreproject.org

On August 10, I had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to attend the 2013 production of A Real "Nigga" Show—a choreopoem performed by an all black and male cast at the Baltimore Theatre Project. The production provided a rare insight into the lives of a group of hyper-maligned, hyper-demonized, and mischaracterized black boys and men, particularly those living in neighborhoods like Upton, Druid Heights, and Greenmount East.

  Councilman Bill Henry (left) presides over the panel moments after Carl Stokes abandoned his chairman’s seat when Ed Reisinger (right) called for approval of the tax financing subsidy. Warren Branch (center) voted with Reisinger.  Photo by: Mark Reutter. Source: Baltimore Brew.

If Baltimoreans don’t rise up to challenge the plutocratic cabal—and its sycophantic Non-Profit Industrial Complex—that runs our government and influences the allocation of resources, if we don’t out-organize and out-vote the political surrogates that are pimping city residents, then we will continue to receive the same results that we have always received: naked handouts for greedy corporate capitalist and cutbacks for hard-working everyday people.

Image source: http://blog.bolsolution.com/index.php/2009/12/20/970/giovanni_ribisi_in_avatar_wallpaper_4_1280/

As we extend our discussion of the provocative themes found in the blockbuster movie, Avatar, we turn to the role played by researchers and scientists. When it comes to getting to the root of the twin missions of American imperialism and colonization, it is incumbent to do what is true in other searches for truth: follow the money. For many scientists and researchers in the United States, the quest to gain new knowledge is financially supported by entrepreneurial academic institutions or the federal government that provides funding for much of scientific research.

Image source: www.steinershow.org

On Friday, June 21, the Marc Steiner Show featured Lawrence Brown as he discussed his Indyreader essay entitled, "Avarice and Avatar in Charm City: Stepping Up the Fight Against Displacement and Dispossession." The discussion covered the historical antecedents of displacement and dispossession and turned to recent gentrification and displacement efforts in the Middle East and Greenmount West communities in Baltimore. The participants discussed strategies for confronting displacement and dispossession, including community organizing, anti-displacement as a fundamental principle, and changing the city charter from a strong mayor system to a council manager form of government to increase community voice and participation.

Bulldozers destroying indigenous land in the Hollywood film, Avatar. Image source: j-miin.tumblr.com

Throughout American history, landjacking has often been accompanied by violence, whether physical or structural. The James Cameron blockbuster movie Avatar illustrated how corporate interests use naked force as they attempted to landjack the home of the Na’vi, the indigenous population on the planet Pandora. What Avatar masterfully depicts are the methods that avaricious developers or corporation interests will use in order to extract resources and maximize profits.

Image source: hbo.com

Although The Wire is utterly brilliant in depicting the parallel hierarchies of power across organizations and the connections from City Hall to the loading docks to streets, there is one critical group missing from the show: progressive activists and advocates. Our progressive activism and advocacy for sustainability and social justice bears witness to the fact that we do not adhere to notions of preordination; nor do we subscribe to the supremacy of modern city institutions. City institutions in Baltimore continue to create negative outcomes because we have not built and sustained the social movements and organizations necessary to hold them accountable and compel them to be responsive to the needs of the people.

Image source: www.tcf.org

Americans have been left flummoxed by the rash of shootings, murders, bombings, and violence that seems to erupt randomly with seemingly no pattern or explanation. I want to propose some thoughts on the issue of violence and masculinity, so roll with me for a minute as I try to explain the common thread that connects suburban mass shootings/bombings (mostly committed by white men) and urban homicides (mostly committed by black men) in America.

Masculinity Psychosis: Weapons of Mass Social Destruction
Change the Game: Creating a Better Baltimore in Light of Lessons from The Wire
Avarice and Avatar in Charm City: Stepping Up the Fight Against Displacement and Dispossession
A Discussion About Gentrification and Displacement in Baltimore
Serving the Corporate Master: Unethical Research and the Misuse of Science in Baltimore and Avatar
In Charm City, Plutocratic Pimpin’ is Easy
A Real “Nigga” Show: A Black Man’s Review
No Love for the Black Power Movement, Misrepresenting the Civil Rights Movement