A Day in The Hood

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In the late 60s and early 70s Annapolis underwent a series of facelifts resulting in downtown residents being relocated to housing developments on the outskirts of town. We referred to those developments as ‘the projects’. Some original black residents held on to their downtown properties and maintained a unique neighborhood community. Their Community Center provided pre-school and after school programs, teen and sport activities, as well as food and clothing distribution for the needy.

 

On my way a to meeting at the Community Center, the trash littered streets and decaying buildings reminded me that I was out of my comfort zone. I had previously frequented Community Center with Robert Eades, my Vista Volunteer who lived in the neighborhood. On this day I was alone.

 

A agitated voices caught my attention, and I observed a hefty teenaged girl yanking a bicycle away from a small boy who appeared to be about 8. He was crying “mine, mine”. I approached them and asked what the problem was.

 

The boy, who appeared to be Hispanic, clutched the bike and kept saying “mine”. The girl assumed a defiant stance, pulled on the bike and told me the boy was trying to steal it from her.

 

I looked around and saw no one in the vicinity. The neighborhood felt unsafe and I was no match for this big girl. At the same time my instincts told me she was the culprit. “You both claim to own that bike,” I said. “Of course I can’t prove whose bike it is, but that policemen who is standing just around the corner will probably be able to sort this out for us. Suppose all three of us go and ask him if he can look up the registration on the bike.”

 

The girl looked at me, let go of the bike and ran away. The boy’s face lit up. He thanked me and rode off on his bike. I heaved a sigh of relief and continued on my way to the Community Center and the office of Kirby McKinney, The Director. He noted that I was visibly shaken and asked what the problem was. When I told him, he smiled. It was just another day in the hood.