My heart aches for my beloved Baltimore

The author with her husband Floyd and their children Ayana and Michael (far right) celebrating Michael’s graduation   from the  University of Maryland at College Park

The author with her husband Floyd and their children Ayana and Michael (far right) celebrating Michael’s graduation from the University of Maryland at College Park

By Bella Santos Owens

After having a great weekend with my family celebrating our children’s birthdays who are young adults and half African Americans, I am very sad watching Baltimore City being destroyed.

Baltimore City had been my home and my work location ever since I came to this country in the 1980s. Our kids were both educated in Baltimore City until middle school. It is a beautiful old city with so much charm — as such it is nicknamed “Charm City.”

Today, our son turned the same age as Freddie Gray. I cannot help but think that they both shared the same kinds of toys, games and whatever fads were “in” during their growing up years. The parallel stopped there though, Freddie Gray died on April 19 after being arrested by the police a week earlier. Our son is a young engineer, he is living a great life as a young adult and working towards a bright future.

This destruction today was started by a group of young adults at a place very familiar to me. I feel like I’ve met some of these young people as I have traversed Baltimore City through the years. I had my own encounters with these young people myself. I am also acquainted with most of the Baltimore City religious leaders who are appealing for calm. I have a personal attachment to Baltimore City that I cannot help but be grief stricken watching the city burn and be destroyed.

The world we live in now is very different. Social media is in full control of us, much more for our children who own at least one or two tech gadgets. If we don’t give our children the time now and teach them core values in life, social media will engulf them the wrong way.

Parenting is never easy, but your child is your responsibility. A healthy family starts with strong and solid parenting. When I came to Baltimore in the ‘80s it was at the height of very young women with multiple children from different partners. It was a time when lots of children were growing up without any parenting. I was amazed and did not understand then, but I knew something was not right. Those children are now in their 30s, some made it okay and most did not. Those who did not, grew up in ignorance.

Emotions are running high right now, different kinds of reasoning as to why this is happening. In my opinion I blame ignorance — ignorance of parents in raising their children the right way. This ignorance produces children who are susceptible to easy prodding from others. This ignorance produces adults who make decisions idiotically. This ignorance produces lawlessness and violence in the community.

With what is happening in Baltimore City some are blaming the young people. The blame should not just rest on them. We should blame ourselves for not being real parents. The call for making a difference in someone’s life is very real and has always existed but we rarely answer. Whether we are a parent, sister, brother, aunt or uncle, now is the time to answer and make a difference in someone’s life.

Wherever we live, solid parenting produces good citizens which is the foundation of every safe and healthy community. Hopefully we are learning from all these painful events today in Baltimore City.

Bella Santos Owens is the president of the Baltimore County Commission for Women. She lives in Towson, Maryland with her husband Floyd and their children Ayana and Michael.


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