Editor’s note: As a 2021 BCPSS graduate, DeAsya Dawson looked to the Baltimore Educator as a place where her voice could be heard. In the interest of empowering the youth of Baltimore, we are publishing this open letter from DeAsya to Mayor Brandon Scott. BTU does not have an official position on the specific policy proposals in this letter.
Dear Mayor Scott,
My name is DeAsya Dawson. I’m a 21-year-old African American female with two young kids that I’m trying to raise in this city. When I started back into Excel Academy this past April, I had nine classes remaining for me to graduate and they were trying to deny me coming back. I had just spent the pandemic raising my now 2-year-old son and my now 6-month-old daughter. The future that awaits me is daunting because I’m scared to leave out my front door because of the crime in my community and city. But I will not let anything hold me back because I want to make a change in my city so that when we walk out our front door, we can feel safe.
When you were first elected, I was excited by hearing about your story and knowing that you were for the youth and for the people. I felt that we finally got the right person in office to get the job done. I rewatched your inauguration speech and it gave me a little hope for the future. During your inauguration speech you said that you were trying to change a “one size fits all strategy” to an “all hands on deck strategy” and that you will work tirelessly day in and day out to stop the violence and get the city back to a safer place.
After your first 100 days you said that you were proud to say that we were moving in the right direction. Honestly, that is hard for me to hear when the crime rate has increased. I’m a young mother raising two kids in this city and because one of them is a young African American male, I don’t want him to be looked at as a statistic. I haven’t seen much of a change. I feel like you need to help young people see you working with the youth so that young people will want to do their part and be a part of the change. I feel like a lot of things are handed to our youth rather than them working hard for it. As a young mother in Baltimore City, I need to be able to see the changes that are being made. For the sake of my kids and my community, I feel as though we can’t trust the system to protect us, so we have to protect ourselves.
Here are some of the promises that you made on December 8, 2020:
- Youth being able to have a seat in government if they want to be involved
- Reliable trash and recycling collection
- Clean and affordable water
- Dependable public transit
- Focus on the root of crime and invest in communities
I would like to know what you have done so far to fulfil those promises? I would also like to know what I can do as a young female to help you make this change in Baltimore City.
Some questions I have for you are:
- What are the public dollars being invested in? How do you determine what is most important?
- Why is BPD getting more weapons without proper training?
- What has been done for the Youth Works process?
- How will you be holding each of the people in your offices accountable? How often do you all evaluate their progress?
- Are law enforcement employees/officers receiving mental health check-ins/screenings or training?
Some potential solutions I have are:
- You visit alternative schools; learn about the needs of alternative schools, not just traditional schools (ex: Poly, Western, Dunbar, etc.)
- Improve and maintain the city’s surveillance cameras
- Stop making it hard for youth to get a job. Youth need to make a decent wage – This can be tied to education as an incentive for students to graduate.
- Teach youth about business and financial literacy in public schools
- Expand Big Sister/Big Brother programs in Baltimore City, mentoring programs
- More youth centers
- Job opportunities for convicted felons
- More vocational/trade schools to teach students a skill that will afford them the opportunity to make money after high school. Not every student is interested in going to college or has the money to pay for college
- Repeat offenders of violent crimes – Don’t let them off easy
- Look at other YouthWorks programs and see what we can do to improve ours
- Get the homeless rate down
- Clear out the vacant houses and turn them into homeless shelters
- Get more programs for teen parents
In conclusion, I’m writing this letter to you because this epidemic of gun violence has hit too close to home. Back on June 19th, 2020, my 3-year-old little cousin Shaniya Gilmore and her pregnant mother Shiand Miller were found dead in a car due to being shot on the 200 block of Boswell Street. Also, my father, Marcus Bentley, was killed on February 10th, 2021, in Highlandtown. This whole city has gone through a heartbreak. Either they have lost a loved one or lost their house due to the pandemic. As we cry out for help, I’m ready for change not only for myself but for the whole city. I hope as you read this letter, you feel my frustration and my passion to help make a change in our city and our community. Also, I would like to help you with this big change because this is not just your job; this is all of our job. This is a job for the community. I would love to meet you in person so that we can talk more about this.
DeAsya Dawson is a 2021 summer graduate and she lives on the east side of Baltimore. When she is not with her mother, sister and her two beautiful baby blessings, she loves to go out and enjoy herself. She is passionate about her education and would like to study anesthesiology in the future so that she can make a better life for her kids.