As coverage of Baltimore this week focuses mostly on protests and riots over police brutality, TCF fellow Stefanie DeLuca broadens the narrative by giving a real voice to the city’s youth. A sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, DeLuca works with Baltimore’s low-income populations as part of her research. The quotes below are pulled from her Twitter feed and come from a ten-year study of families and youth in Baltimore to be published in a forthcoming book. The study, conducted with Kathryn Edin and Susan Clampet-Lundquist, looked at the transition to adulthood for 150 youth hailing from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods—many who were born in the high rises that stood in the 1990s. Using the hashtags #RealBaltimoreYouth and #ChildrenNotThugs, DeLuca sheds light on what much of the media has not—the everyday struggles and dreams of Baltimore’s youth.
Stefanie DeLuca: Been following youth and families from Baltimore for ten years. These are their voices. If they surprise you, pass it on.
Tristan, 16, on school: “I keep pushing myself to keep on working until, until they tell me to stop.”
Justin, 23: “Well, I just love sandin’ floors. I’m a carpenter before anything.”
Matthew, 21: “I might not even make it to the future. You never know what’s happening. This is Baltimore, so…”
Bob loves punk rock, anime, and Shakespeare. He has 3 jobs, with an iron in his backpack to keep uniforms nice.
Kayla, 16: “I wanna be an orthodontist since I was like 7. I always wanted to go to college.”
William, 18: “I worked at Burger King in 11th grade. It was a lot of hard work, taught me I had to follow directions.”
Vicky has a pigeon coop. She goes out to see her birds when she’s frustrated.
Cody, 19: “I wanted to become a police officer just from seeing what’s going on in Baltimore everyday. I want to change that”
Jackson, 22, has written a few novels when he’s not working at KFC. It’s how he vents his feelings.
Rhiannon, a BA graduate: “Someone saw potential in me, a program for underprivileged children who were excelling.”
Ashanti, 22: “As far as friends, I don’t surround myself with people that do illegal things.”
Gary saved up for a car, and won’t let anyone in with drugs: “They know not to get in my car with any of that stuff!”
Larry, 21: “You see other people that was on the corners, and I’m tryin to make myself better”
Dana works with disabled adults and dreams of being a nurse. She was quite the poet in school.
Rome: “I just go inside every store and ask for applications…lookin’ for a job, it don’t matter”
Antonio, 23, is proud of his badge—it shows he’s a security guard at Hopkins.
Follow Stefanie on Twitter @Stefanie_DeLuca and read more of her work on the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program here.