On Sunday, a thousand quilt squares carrying messages from survivors of sexual and domestic violence blanketed North Avenue between Charles and Howard streets, as visitors studied the stories and drawings and created their own quilt squares. The display was the largest yet for the Monument Quilt, a project of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, a national art activist group founded in Baltimore. At the Ynot Lot, poets, musicians, and representatives from advocacy groups and city government offices took to the stage and mayoral candidates Sheila Dixon, David Warnock, Elizabeth Embry, and Carl Stokes participated in a forum in which they were asked to pledge support for survivors through various prevention tactics and collaboration with survivor-led groups. The emotional and healing event made us even more excited for the Monument Quilt's ultimate display on the National Mall in D.C., slated for Fall of 2017.
Last week, three Baltimoreans won Guggenheim fellowships, out of 175 total awardees this year: Ramona Diaz, whose independent documentaries examine power and revolution; experimental musical instrument-inventor Neil Feather; and art historian Mitchell B. Merback. College Park artist Hasan Elahi, whose photographic and Internet-based work addresses surveillance and privacy, was also awarded a fellowship. It's a step up from last year when two Hopkins arts and culture scholars repped this city, and we look forward to more spotlights on Baltimore's artists in the future.
The art and sport of Taekwondo has once again dishonored the 3000-year tradition of martial arts by bestowing an unearned, "honorary" black belt on an unschooled person (the resolutely unathletic Boss Hög) and then compounded the disgrace by sanctioning a transparently bogus "board break" by Gov. Larry Hogan, all in the service of partisan political bullshit. When word of this gets back to the Kukkiwon, all involved in this shameful breach of etiquette are certainly in for a whoopin'. (If the ninjas don't get to them first).
↓ Baltimore's Housing Stock
Days after a collapsing rowhouse killed a man sitting in his beloved Cadillac, strong winds toppled several more vacant buildings. On April 5, The Sun's Yvonne Wenger reported that more than 500 vacant houses are in such bad shape that inspectors have to visit them every 10 days to look for fallen-in roofs, bulging walls, and severe stress cracks. There are 17,000 vacant buildings in all. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she's quadrupled the amount of money in the budget for tearing down vacants but doesn't have any more money to work with. The Maryland General Assembly recently passed a bill that would send millions more for demolition, and it seems like that money couldn't come soon enough, because our city is falling down.
↓ Ray Lewis
Ex-Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis is a citywide treasure. That's why we were disappointed to learn that he seems to be #TeamWhatAboutBlackOnBlackCrime. In a video posted to his Facebook page, Lewis points to Chicago's abysmal murder rates as evidence that the black community is turning a blind eye on murders of black people committed by black people. Why not riot against that, instead of one or two bad white cops, he asks. Fact is, there are tons of groups looking to halt the flow of black blood in places like Chicago and here in Baltimore. Moreover, the fight against police brutality is about more than one or two individuals—it's against a system where people with darker skin are assumed guilty and deserving of the violence.