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Charles Street displays both generational wealth and the legacy of racism | READER COMMENTARY

The mansion at Sherwood Gardens, like many other grand houses in Guilford, is notable for the careful upkeep of fine millwork and trim and carefully aligned brick and stone. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun).
The mansion at Sherwood Gardens, like many other grand houses in Guilford, is notable for the careful upkeep of fine millwork and trim and carefully aligned brick and stone. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun). (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun)

Recently, my wife and I went to visit my cousin in Manor Care, the assisted living facility on North Charles Street. We traveled via the beltway to get there. However, when we left, we drove down North Charles toward Waverly to pick up some repaired chairs.

Visually, the first things that grab you, in all their grandeur and splendor, are the large magnificent individual homes that line the street along with their landscaping, the floral presence, the driveways, etc. As an elderly Black man, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I’m looking at the fruits and rewards of racism and — I’m afraid I have to use the term — white privilege.

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Mind you, working class whites did not build and purchase these homes. They were not built for people who worked at Sparrows Point, Glen L. Martin or Waverly Press. They were business owners, white collar professionals such as doctors, lawyers, dentists, engineers, etc. Communities like this, all over the country, are the beneficiaries of the “white flight” construct with all-white Christian schools, all-white churches and health care accessibility.

Building generational wealth through home ownership and land is still paramount today. Sadly, because of racism and housing discrimination, financially stable Black professionals were not allowed to buy homes in this and similar neighborhoods decades ago. It’s not about critical race theory, this is about the “leg up” that whites have always had and exploited to their advantage.

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Walt Carr, Columbia

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