Baltimore, Horses, Horror and Hope: It’s the Merry Month of May!
Since the late 19th Century and the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago, most of the world has celebrated May Day, the first day of this springtime month, as Labor Day, when workers are fêted and the achievements of little people’s rights are enjoyed.
But while Europeans and Africans, Asians, and South Americans might be marching together in the laborer solidarity following an Affair that led to the eight-hour workday, the two-day weekend and the end of children's exploitation in mills and factories, US citizens have been embroiled in alternative varieties of angst. Notably:
There has been Baltimore. Once a haven of religious freedom, a port of entry into the USA since its founding in 1729, “Charm City,” as it has been nicknamed, has been suffering of late from more harm than charm. And although the press has reported much about the goings-on in this place, the largest city in its state, and although much continues to be said about “what it is not” — such as a lack of African-American representation in local politics, a lack of African-American business, and/or a glut of white-against-black crime — not much seems to be said about what is the problem in Baltimore.
Why do we not find this out, and then seek to remedy it?
Certainly, the jaundiced eye might see that the Baltimore Situation will have to be resolved before the Triple Crown horse race comes to town. Neither bettors nor haberdashers would want the image of Pimlico to be sullied by marchers or rioters, protesters or too much hoi polloi. In the wake of the record number of horse race watchers at Kentucky's Churchill Downs, Preakness Stakes hopefuls must be salivating.
Gone are the concerns about horse and jockey drugging, about extreme dieting among the latter, about cruel treatment of the former, about racketeering and bad behavior among horse trainers and stable owners.
Is there a connection between the way in which inner-city, poor-folk problems are bemoaned but not solved and the manner in which suburban, rich-folk societal ills are glossed over?
Perhaps we community college people, engaged as we are both within inner cities and on their outskirts, might enkindle one another to incite discussion at least, and change, at best?
And as we do this, we might remind ourselves that we community college partisans are also people of our world. We are not separate or distinct. We know that Nepal is a faraway place, that tales have been told about Katmandu and the mountains of the place, that its beauty is extreme. But with extreme gorgeousness has come disaster, this time of year when May should be merry and flowers bringing joy.
Our local newspapers in southern California have tried to bring the events of Nepal close to home by citing recent visits there made by some of our neighbors hiking in high terrain. If this is what it takes to make people get interested in their not-so-close environs, then let us community college people take that news and run. At two of the half-dozen institutions where I am currently working, Nepalese students study and faculty teach. We might want to engage one another, it seems to me, and involve. California newspapers have also discussed, with respect to Nepal, the underground fault lines of the place and their similarity to/difference from our own Newport-Inglewood subterranean frangibility. There’s another opportunity to incite some geological awareness, geographical study, and perhaps even a gaze at populations. After all, who lives in Nepal?
Once again, is it the poor who must be not only misbegotten but forgotten?
As May proceeds, we should do well to recall that we at the community college comprise the crucible of (favorable!) change; we are the forgers of a new future. As many colleges distribute diplomas this month, let’s make it a May of good hope.