So we took back the night, Wednesday night at Mondawmin Mall, and seeing what we have become, my heart sank just a little. The night was very much a success. The attendance was a wee bit sparse, but that was to be expected; it was, after all, dreadfully hot. A small but well represented array of participants and vendors hosted booths and tents affecting a distinct and welcome embrace toward the community in question. The list of invited guests and surprise drop-ins was phenomenal for such a localized event. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, City Council members, top city and state officials all not only attended but made an effort to blend in. They mixed it up, without airs, with the community at large. So what's the problem?
The event was drenched with the outright exploitation of our demoralized and unashamedly debased, "thug-a-rized" culture. And here we were taking back the night, gift wrapping it in the same mantle and with the same gaudy and flashy-trashy wrapping paper that served to take it away in the first place.
With the exception of a few songs — very few, either emanating from the live performances or from the DJ's hit list — the sound track for this glorious night of family fun was the same as I would expect to hear in da club at 3 a.m. And I am a not choir boy, but this kind of music is exactly why I stopped going there. Yeah, that's what we gave this "taken back night" — a heavy dose of some more peace-loving riffs about bling and ho's.
Seriously! Just because with syncopated timing you cleverly bleep out the crucial word at the end of the line doesn't mean the inference isn't obvious to any eight year old.
People, because a guy wears a backward hat, talks slang and spins records does not make him an authority on social decorum. Letting such irresponsible forces freely set the tone for these events overshadows whatever message you may ultimately be trying to deliver.
And while we are on the subject of message, what were we taking the night back from? The mandatory quick blurb followed by the two minute or so memorial to victims of violence seemed rather labored and mandated, more like PSA in the midst of our booty down, jungle boogie, dance-off hootenanny.
Finally, Madam Mayor, if this is the same overall theme that is going to serve as the backdrop to your, (much promoted, Wednesday night) back to school event, your crew and cabinet should have some important issues to ponder. Is this really the type of celebrating we want to drench our kids in before sending them back to school?
If our expectations for our youths have become so low at these public, city-sanctioned events, I can only speculate to the worse what might be taking place inside the walls of our schools this year.
P. Ghee, Baltimore
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