Fall 08–Winter 09 Issue 10

Fall 08–Winter 09 Issue 10

Introduction: 

At this point anyone who expresses disillusionment at noting the chasm between political rhetoric and the real social action that it promises is not considered a cynic, but merely a realist. It seems that decades of inspirational messages and slogans telling us to Believe in The Greatest City in America (just for example) have effectively left us desensitized and unmoved by consistently vacuous, under-funded promises. Nowhere is this reality more evident than in the gap between the rhetoric about the need to educate and care for young people and the actual services, programs, supplies, and opportunities that this rhetoric claims to deliver. It’s beyond cliché by now to say that the youth are the future leaders of America, or that education of youth is fundamental to maintaining not just our fair city, but our entire democratic republic. Bringing up the plight of some schools and after-school programs compared to others with enormous endowments and private funding seems equally trite. Yet, with all this talk about how important it is to care for youth and provide them with opportunities, and with all the data and testimonials documenting the stories of many youth who are still denied these services, it seems that little is being done by our elected officials on the City, State, and Federal levels to rectify this injustice. That is why it is so imporant that organizing efforts in Baltimore include young people.

In this issue, we gain perspectives from both the mentors of youth and the young people themselves about what is needed in their neighborhoods and what can be done (and is being done) to empower them and give them the support needed to have control over their own future. Mike Kaplan, an 18-year-old local high school activist, points out the often-overlooked population of homeless youth in the city. Students at the Community School in Remington offer their perspectives about the election season and how they are working to better themselves and their peer groups through education. With some light shed on the views and thoughts of young people, we turn to adults who have been working to mentor and support youth through various educational and extra-curricular programs. Marilyn Hunter, a former teacher and education advocate, interviews mentors around the city who are working to support young people on their paths to success. Iris Kirsch describes a program that is helping kids stay away from violence and focus on achieving in school to build their careers. Ron Kipling Williams, a youth advocate and writer, points out and clears up some misconceptions about youth advocacy and its relationship with community organizing. For a more self-reflexive look, China Martens, author of a zine about radical childcare, highlights deficiencies she sees among leftists movements regarding adequate care and support for young people (while of course offering her proposed solutions). Lastly, I revisit a story from Issue 4 by providing an update on a program that offers city youth the opportunity to work in solidarity with artists, activists, and farmers in Nicaragua.

To compliment and contextualize our feature articles, we’ve also expanded our news coverage in this issue, providing a broader and more comprehensive look at local, national, and international stories that affect Baltimore’s residents. Even more stories, including video and audio, can be found at our website, www.indyreader.org.

Articles: