A City of Contrasts

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau

The gift of photography is that it presents a brutal truth, even if we are desperate to deceive, it resists.  I am slowly returning to a photographic project I started a little over a year ago – “
Baltimore: Sorrow, Promise and Hope.”

There is something about this city that lingers in my consciousness, pushes itself to the forefront of my mind as I drive through neighborhoods which resemble developing countries, whole roofs missing, decaying structures, ubiquitous liquor stores, and abandoned buildings which once held thriving businesses. The ghosts of progress abound.

Yet twenty minutes later, while making my way through Roland Park, there are manicured lawns and regal homes, a testament to the contrasts in this city – privilege and poverty, hope and despair, the dreamers and disillusioned.  
How do we move from acknowledging those contrasts to building a community, one rooted in the kind of inclusiveness that is not blind to difference, but rather works within it to help us understand one another more fully? No one has a definitive answer, or all of this would be solved. Still, I am looking forward to beginning my own exploration of this question through pictures, words and dialogue with others.  
How do you think we can begin moving out our bubbles to understanding one another more?  Is it through art, joining social justice organizations, volunteering, etc.?
Emelda De Coteau
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2 Replies to “A City of Contrasts”

  1. That’s a tough question! With the lack of communication between races and classes, I find myself quickly judging others. Almost everyday I think, “He is definitely racist!” or “Mmm I wonder if she’s on crack, heroine, meth or a combination”? I also find myself being judged. Countless times I’ve heard, “Oh you think you better than me because….” With these uninformed judgements, we all miss out on love. It is the times I converse with the assumed racist and the declared junkie that I discover true human connection. He isn’t a racist at all, actually, he’s the only caucasian person who sings on an all black gospel choir. And guess what?! She wasn’t on drugs, she has an auto immune disease JUST LIKE ME!
    So my remedy would be to create spaces for the races and classes to talk and learn about each other. Now, how do we do this?! I’m not going to the corner of North and Gay to strike up a conversation with my brothers on the steps of a boarded up house. Nor am I going to the next Cecil County NRA meeting. But if we could find a way to simply talk to each other we would discover so many similarities that it would be impossible to continue to hate.

    1. I think you are at the core of the issue, Shannon! What is the saying, “perception is reality?” So many of us make assumptions (I do, too!), and this blocks dialogue. If we can’t talk, we cannot understand, if we cannot understand, we cannot love. Love really is at the center of it all! I believe it comes down to those one-on-one conversations…

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