2018 Week 2: Government and Policy
This week was better than last week. I’m starting to receive more complicated and ongoing assignments, and assignments that I can tell are more important to the success of FreeState Justice. I’ve started learning about writing grant reports and grant proposals, which feels like a very real and tangible skill that I might be able to use later on in my career. Also, by reading past materials in order to learn about grant writing, I’m learning more about nonprofit funding structures and also what corporations and foundations look for in a nonprofit that they might fund. I feel more satisfied at the end of a day of work doing these tasks, because I can tell that what I do could have a real impact and tangible results. I also feel like my site supervisor is starting to trust me more with more jobs; for instance, I was made an admin of the Facebook page for the organization, after starting out by having him need to review and edit any posts I made for the page. Even though I still don’t interact with any of FreeState’s clients, this week I have felt more connected to them and to the work that FreeState does because I can see the connection between what I am doing on a daily basis and the ability of FreeState to help its clients. The weekly bites session was also interesting this week because the shelter we saw was named after Harry and Jeanette Weinberg, who our guide described as “the biggest slumlords in the history of Baltimore.” This surprised me because that same day, I had been writing an interim grant report to their family’s foundation. This made me think about how so many social issues in Baltimore are connected, and how certain people have enough privilege to play both sides of the coin in terms of helping and hurting the community.
This was a hectic week at my placement. I spent almost all of my time preparing for ERICA’s annual fundraising event, where there was food and drinks, musical performers, and a silent auction. Because the organization is so small, a lot of responsibility fell to me, which was both exciting and a little stressful considering that the proceeds from this event are always a big part of ERICA’s annual budget. I got to design the program for the evening, which was made much easier with the help of Canva, I worked on setting up the display sheets and bid sheet for the silent auction, and I worked at the event itself Friday night, helping to set up, check people in, check people out after the auction, and clean up afterwards.
All the preparation that I witnessed in the last week was nothing compared to what my two site supervisors had been doing to prepare for months before I even joined them. Even a relatively small-scale event with about 80 people still required hours of preparation and work and careful thought. There were so many variables and small details that I wouldn’t have even thought of if I were in charge of planning. And even if some of it was tedious and painstaking, fundraising is crucial to ensuring that the organization can keep doing all of its amazing work, and it gave me a great appreciation all of the administrative, behind the scenes work that nonprofits do.
After my first year of CIIP, it was really easy for me to look back on the summer and reflect on what I wished I had done better. The biggest thing was that I felt like I could have self-started a little more. I had an amazing experience and did a lot, but there were a couple of times that different ideas were thrown around (recording or writing out math lessons, giving classes on random subject areas, etc.) that I very well could have taken and run with, but I never did. A lot of it came down to time, as these ideas and the free time with which I could have done them presented themselves toward the end of the summer, but I absolutely could have done something extra if I had been proactive enough.
I went into this summer with it in my head that I would not let this happen again. I started my placement a couple of weeks ago, and have been working on my map ever since. This map will not take me the whole summer, and in the middle of another pretty tedious day of making it, I realized I was doing exactly what I did last summer! Some ideas had been thrown around about different statistical work needed to be done for Complete Streets in meetings I’ve been in. I, of course, mentioned that I’d be happy to do it, but still was kind of sitting around waiting for someone to say something again. It kind of hit me that I am literally two classes away from a degree in statistics and should 100% be taking some initiative in getting this done. Not only will I be used to a little bit more of my potential, but my days will also be a lot more enjoyable splitting time between projects. I’m currently in the process of making this happen, coming up with ideas for what needs to be done, and looking forward to a much more efficient week next week.
You can be given criminal record for loitering. Loitering. To emphasize how ridiculous and subject to bias crimiliing loitering is, let me define it. Loitering is “to stand or wait around idly or without apparent purpose.” If you were to tell me that you have never stood around, or wandered around with no “purpose,” I would call you out as a liar. However the difference is that to the police, what logically, seems like the most innocent (if not perplexed) of human actions, can be associated with danger, crime and violence. And what I’ve come to learn is that arresting someone for loitering, is really just a placeholder, a way to get a person behind bars, and later hit them with a larger charge, possession, prostitution, petty crimes, (things police would not have had proof of or enough evidence for at the time of initial arrest.) Whether or not these larger charges hold up, youth are ultimately stuck with criminal records for incredibly petty and unnecessary “crimes,” which affects their ability to obtain jobs and housing, ultimately throwing them right back into a predetermined cycle of oppression enforced by our police force. What I am honestly trying to get at is this. Some of us have the privilege to “loiter,” and not be regarded as a threat to safety. Some of us have the privilege to be in a space, and literally be doing absolutely nothing, and *surprise* not get arrested for it. Some of us, can posses pounds of illegal drugs, distribute these drugs, and only get a slap on the wrist and confiscation of our goods at the discretion of the university (without the police ever getting involved.) Some of us can shout “fuck the police” right to a cop’s face (while being drunk and underage mind you,) and get away with a suggestion to go home and get some rest (true story, I was with a white friend of mine at 7/11). But then again, some of us get arrested for loitering. Or get arrested for any of the things listed before, or worse, get brutalized or killed for any of the things listed above, or sometimes for no reason at all. Where you stand in these categories depends on a number of things, your race, your class, your gender, your education, the list goes on. But if there’s one thing that has been cemented in me this week as I go through expungements for YouthWorks, it is that as Hopkins students, we get away with so much. So much more than members of Baltimore are even given the benefit of the doubt for. And if you go through your years at Hopkins using your privilege for nothing more than to complain about Baltimore, maybe you do not deserve to be in this wonderful city at all.
Tags: 2018, CIIP, CIIP 2018, City Councilperson Ryan Dorsey, Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance, Freestate Justice, Week 2, Youthworks