Note: Originally published February 2, 2016 in Baltimore City Paper

In this proposal, I outline seven separate but interrelated claims for reparations and restitutions that African-Americans are due in order for this country to help repair the trauma and damage of white supremacy inflicted on the population in a very targeted fashion. University of Connecticut researcher Thomas Craemer estimated that the back pay for the unpaid labor provided by enslaved Africans and their descendants ranges from $5.9 to $14.2 trillion. …

In June 2020, my two living grandparents contracted the dreaded novel coronavirus. I drove down from Wisconsin to check on them and to help coordinate their care. I was scared and concerned regarding their health and well-being.

Once I arrived in Crittenden County in Arkansas, my grandfather was hospitalized in Shelby County, Tennessee, after not being able to eat or drink. The isolation protocols meant that no one could visit him in the hospital, and I was afraid that I would never see him again.

With no ability to visit my grandfather in the hospital and my grandmother at her…

Although infectious diseases are biological in form, they invariably take place in a social context. Hence, the best way to understand epidemics and outbreaks is to understand the social context in which they take place. Before discussing the social context of the novel coronavirus, it is useful to review how social arrangements and power dynamics played a role with epidemics of the past.

The Social Context of Previous Epidemics

Throughout the history of widespread epidemics and global pandemics, deadly pathogens have often been unleashed alongside projects of imperialism, colonization, and racialized apartheid. As British, French, and Spanish colonizers spread across…

The Coronapacalypse: Why COVID-19 Targets Redlined Black Neighborhoods in Hypersegregated Cities

The coronavirus pandemic is currently ravaging America and ripping through redlined Black neighborhoods. In cities such as Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire.

This is not random. Coronavirus - like nearly all diseases or conditions (be it HIV, toxic lead exposure, or food insecurity) - takes root in the neighborhoods that have been redlined and subprimed. Coronavirus is erupting in the places that have been marginalized and demonized in the construct of American Apartheid.

The data below from the University of Chicago’s U.S. COVID-19 Atlas reveal the pattern. As you can…

Every time there’s a major violent crime by a Black youth from a disinvested, redlined community in Baltimore, one of the first questions I have is — were they lead poisoned? And if they were poisoned by toxic lead, I want to know: what is the blood lead level of their poisoning?

As you can see from the State of Maryland’s data in the table below, Baltimore had 2,254 children poisoned between 5–9.9 µg/dL of lead and 347 children poisoned at 10+ µg/dL lead in their blood. Those kids in 2009 are now 9–14 years old. We never treated many…

Almost 20 years ago, another mind-blowing sci-fi epic was released that encoded deep philosophical underpinnings — the Matrix. It’s a trilogy that can be viewed as big budget Hollywood thriller but also seen as representing or personifying philosophical arguments.

The new Marvel movie Black Panther can also be understood in this light. It works as a big budget Hollywood movie with thrills galore. But the movie is much deeper than that. I hope to briefly outline now how the movie functions as such, but with the caveat that this is only a working draft that I will return to occassionally…

Baltimore is at a dangerous crossroads. When crime stays in Black neighborhoods, nobody really blinks. It’s normal for Black people to die because even in a Chocolate City like Baltimore, Black Lives don’t matter.

But now highly visible violent crime is happening in White L neighborhoods like Canton, Mt. Vernon, and Federal Hill. And it’s causing a White L Panic. Just go read any of our waterfront neighborhood Facebook pages and you’ll find plenty of postings like these straight outta the White L.

Repeatedly, we see expressions like these, especially of the “they’re definitely not from our neighborhood” variety. …

The 10-day Tent City protest/occupation — from August 14–23 — was borne out of the massive housing crisis still unfolding in Baltimore City. The crisis wreaks havoc in the lives of people who are losing or have lost homes and shelter. There are four major prongs to Baltimore’s real estate market attack on housing stability:

1) Mass rental evictions — 1st in nation per capita

2) Mass foreclosures — 4th nationally in metro area foreclosure filings in 2015

3) Cost-burdened housing — 59.3% of Black renters & 45% of Black homeowners pay more than 30% of their income in rent/mortgage

After 10 days of protesting, occupying, and holding the space in front of City Hall, Tent City residents and organizers won a victory — but a victory in progress. We built friendships and relationships with each other. We endured highs and lows. We were frazzled and sometimes drained, but we were resolute and determined.

The day before we started the protest/occupation, Baltimore Bloc called for deposing Baltimore’s Confederate statues (August 13). …

What is Baltimore #TentCity?

Baltimore #TentCity is a grassroots effort, protest, and occupation organized by Baltimore SCLC and joined in solidarity by Baltimore Bloc, Food Not Bombs, 300 Gangsters, Baltimore Free Farm, and other organizations.

What is Tent City?

On Friday, residents of Tent City in front of City Hall expressed some of their concerns and issues. Check them out.

What are our demands?

Why do we need a $2 billion Racial Equity Social Impact Bond? Because white supremacist policies and practices have damaged Black communities and worsened Black health. It is needed to help HEAL the Black Butterfly!

Lawrence Brown

Author of “The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America.” Founder of the Black Butterfly Project.

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