Baltimore seems to have gained a rather bad reputation among the residents of the USA over the past few years. The so-called “drunk business” (SUPERTIMENEWS 8:50), as well as other illegal types of money making, which some parts of Baltimore are nowadays notorious for, clearly needs to be investigated and dealt with once and for all.
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The reasons for the city suburbs to have become infested by the lowest of the low, including thieves and drug dealers, however, are yet to be discussed. Despite the fact that the citizens of Baltimore are also partially responsible for the moral decomposition of the city, the society and the prejudices that it produces also seem to have had a hand in turning Baltimore into one of the most crime-ridden places of the American North.
The Trap of Poverty in the Urban Setting
There is no secret that poverty usually causes people to choose the marginal style of life that they would probably, considered inappropriate otherwise (Becker 235). Even though the reasons for choosing the trail of crime are traditionally restricted to the basic need for money, there are still different perspectives on the given phenomenon, which are worth taking a closer look at. By comparing the perspectives provided by different theories, one can possibly define the source of the problems that Maryland in general and Baltimore in particular are facing at present.
Rational actor theory at work
The first theory to consider, the concept of rational actor, also known as the Theory of Rational Choice, presupposes that it is in people’s nature to make the choices that are favorable for them. Basic enough, the given theory allows for nailing down the reasons for the African American residents of Baltimore to choose crime instead of considering legal yet not so financially favorable options.
Structured socialization theory
Another peculiar perspective to consider the problem of the Baltimore African American community from, the Structured Socialization Theory presupposes that a particular situation and a particular environment predispose the actions of the people who are involved into the situation in question in any way.
Either carried away by the moment, or being convinced in the necessity to pursue the values of a particular society, people take the actions that they would not have otherwise (Anderson 1). Indeed, when considering the Baltimore situation, one will have to agree that, without being ostracized by the rest of the population, the people inhabiting the Baltimore African American suburbia would have, probably, not succumbed to illegal activities.
In some way, society molds criminals, creating the premises for criminal activity to occur, with such setting as “unpaved streets, open-air sewers, random garbage collection, polluted drinking water, and poor lighting” (Auyero 26).
Perhaps, the saddest thing about watching the principles of the given theory coming into life is that the criminal environment of Baltimore sucks in not only the adults, but the younger population, including teenagers and kids. Thus, the vicious circle closes; once made sinister by the criminal outcasts, the city coins criminal outcasts nowadays.
Movie Analysis: Through the Lens of Social Justice
Like any other documentary, the given movie has its strengths and problems. While clearly leaving an impression, it still fails to provide the answers to the questions that it asks. More to the point, the movie succumbs to the common mistake by disregarding the significance of the obvious culture clash.
Strengths: in search for a solution
The first and the most obvious strength of the video is the ability of the director to show that the measures are obviously taken to address the issue concerning high rates of crime in the Baltimore suburbs. It is also remarkable that the video manages to stir the audience’s attention, raising people’ awareness of the issue.
It would be wrong to say that the report provided by the narrator reinvents people’s perception of life in Maryland, yet it clearly sheds the light on the issues that had clearly been silenced p until now. Finally, the author’s objectivity should be noted as a major advantage of the movie.
It would have been easy just to blame high crime rates on the inefficiency of the local police force and the marginal lifestyle of the people inhabiting the neighborhood; instead, the author provides a detailed account of the root causes of the current situation, therefore, preventing the viewers from laying the blame solely on the local African American population (Katz 82).
Weaknesses: culture, acceptance and the vicious circle
Perhaps, one of the basic flaws of the given documentary concerns its inability to specify the reasons for the conflict in question to occur.
Sadly enough, even in the XXI century, when racial issues should have been long resolved, major misunderstandings between the African American people and the rest of the U.S. population occur on a regular basis due to the lack of cultural connection (Liebow 34). It seems that the movie director could have explored the issue regarding the culture clash between Americans and African Americans more.
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Middle ground as the Promised Land
Even though the concept of middle ground seems to have been worn out long before the given video came out, for the residents of Baltimore, it can be, in fact, their saving grace.
Alternative solutions and their legitimacy
The problem regarding the Baltimore mobsters, however, is not going away that simple; in order for the city to be safe, one will have to take more drastic measures and wait much longer. Even when implemented successfully, changes take time, especially changes in social life.
To change the current status of Baltimore as one of the most dangerous places in Michigan, it will be necessary to change its residents’ perspective, which will require much time (Rosenhan 379).
It would be wrong to assume that the urban poor are the only ones to be blamed for their problems. Apart from the fact that people are forced to live in the criminal environment, one must mention the lack of job opportunities, as well as educational options, for that matter. In other words, even though people make their own choices, it is also the society that offers these choices to the social outcasts.
As it has been stressed, the problems that Baltimore is currently facing are not going away in one day. To make sure that the crime rates have dropped, one will have to give the new strategy a time test. Success, however, can be achieved at the earliest stages of problem solving, i.e.
At the stage of recognizing the issues in perceiving the African American culture, as well as the need to give African Americans in Baltimore more opportunities for engaging in the city’s social life. Without social outcasts, there will be no crime material anymore, which will hopefully help the Baltimore case.
Anderson, Elijah. “The Code of the Streets.” The Atlantic 28 October 2013: 1–15. Web.
Auyero, Javier. “Born Amid Bullets.” Contexts, 12.1 (2013), 25–29.
Becker, Howard S. “Becoming a Marginal User.” The American Journal of Sociology 59.3 (1953), 235–242. Print.
Katz, Jack. „The Ways of the Badass.” Seductions of Crime: Moral and Sensual Attractions of Doing Evil. Ed. Jack Katz. New York, NY: Basic Books. 80–113. Print.
Liebow, Elliott. Tally’s Corner: A Study of Negro Streetcomer Men(Legacies of Social Thought Series). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 1967. Print.
Rosenhan, David L. “On Being Sane in Insane Places.” Santa Clara Lawyer 13 (1973), 379–399. Print.
SUPERTIMENEWS. “Fault Lines.” YouTube. 15, April, 2013. Web.