Baltimore teens talking, rapping and singing about their lives during and after the April riots have been showing up more and more in local and national media lately.
Last week, I wrote about a storytelling workshop for young women that Sonja Sohn and Maria Broom, of HBO's "The Wire," were leading in the Penn North neighborhood where Freddie Gray lived. The teens were encouraged to talk about the riots and how they touched thier lives.
Sunday, Wesley Case, the Sun's pop music critic, wrote about a song and music video, "Believe in Baltimore" that will be released tomorrow. Baltimore teens enrolled in the Believe in Music program wrote the lyrics for this anthem of hope for the city. The song can be heard starting Wednesday on WTMD-FM (89.7 FM), which helped produce it.
And now comes a video from the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, that features students from Carver Vocational-Technical High School, Baltimore School for the Arts, and Coppin State University talking about their lives.
The thing I like best about this video is that while it does include teen voices talking about disparity in economic opportunity and resources, it also includes students talking about the things they value and even love in their neighborhoods and communities. It's not the one-dimensional portrait of these young citizens as hopeless victims of larger sociological forces that so many members of the out-of-town media produced.
One of the best moments in the Brookings video comes with a baseball coach explaining how his team was involved in a game in West Baltimore on April 27, the day of the worst rioting. And the riots were close enough to the ball park that they could see the helicopters hovering overhead.
The coach said he and the umpires decided to keep playing, because, if nothing else, it would keep the athletes on the field and out of danger on the streets for a couple of hours.
The death of Gray and what happened in the wake of that is the catalyst for these microphones suddenly being available to Baltimote teens, of course.
I hope we adults will take the time to listen and think about what's being said.