Tag Archives: Malden

Black Lives Matter leads to Questions about Malden Police

I hope that Black Lives Matter leads to real changes at interpersonal, local, national and international levels. There is a lot of work to be done, especially among us white folks. Uncovering the racist acts of individual police and examining the complex interactions among racism, police, and governing bodies are a good place to start.

Black Lives Matter logo

In 1990, I chose to live in Malden, a city of 60,000, just north of Boston, heralded as “the most diverse in Massachusetts.” Malden is neither the least “white” (about 50%), nor the most black, brown or Asian. Rather, we are a mix of races, cultures, ethnicities, economic classes, religions, etc. We have a plethora of adults who were born in other countries (I believe 37%), and 77 languages spoken at home by students at the high school. Diversity doesn’t mean that racism and white privilege aren’t prevalent: they are. Everywhere.

I wrote to my city councilor on June 12, 2020. Today, I modified it for clarity to post here, and to send to the rest of the city council, the police chief, and the mayor.

The Letter

Dear Malden Officials,

The resurgence of Black Lives Matter has refocused my attention on the systemic racism that surrounds and is within us. I’ve seen many of the connections before, but this round of furor has deepened my thinking and my desire to push for changes.

Brave people with video cameras posting on social media have, once again, exposed police brutality in the killing of George Floyd. I think the Malden police do a good, civil, job without undo force. But then, I’m white and live in the west end of the city. USA Today has made available a database that contains records of police misconduct. I wanted to see if have been any reports made in Malden, but Massachusetts is not one of the 44 states from which they were able to get data. The New York Times has an important article on the role of police unions in covering up misdeeds. I’ve read a lot in the past about the war on drugs (a.k.a. on poor and black people), and about military equipment and grants made to local police to stop terrorism (Timothy McVeigh?). Continue reading Black Lives Matter leads to Questions about Malden Police

Improvements needed in Malden Center

It’s time to finally write my rant about Malden’s city hall, a.k.a. “government center.” The short story is that the building was built smack dab in the middle of Pleasant Street and now blocks access to that commercial area, and that the building and area around it create a hostile rather than welcoming environment. In the twenty years I’ve lived here, the city has repeatedly investigated tearing it down. While that dream sits in the pipe, I think there are relatively inexpensive ways the city could improve the area and funnel traffic to Pleasant Street.

Now, for the long story.

I walked some errands today. My stroll started at the Malden Center T station. I went down Exchange Street, in back of the police station, to Middlesex Street. I turned right to go into McGovern Physical Therapy where the PT tried to convince my recalcitrant ankle to shape up. From there, I went back up Middlesex toward Pleasant Street. I looked in the CVS for dixie cups that I could fill with water, freeze, and use to torture my ankle. There were way too many in the box for more than I wanted to pay, so I exited and turned left onto Pleasant. I thought about checking in the Super 99¢ Century store for dixie cups, but the cramped chaos in there scares me so I cruised on by. I realized I was hungry, so swung into the Ethiopian/Mediterranean Abiata Cafe and bought a shawarma.

Continue reading Improvements needed in Malden Center

Mental Instability: on the T

Here is an attempt at writing something short on my blog, in one sitting, and posting it immediately.

The seriously mentally ill are all around us, more so since states closed their mental institutions. My encounters with crazy people have almost all been on the Boston area’s transportation system: the T.

Let’s get two things out of the way. First, I know that “crazy,” “lunatic,” and even “mad,” are seen by some as pejorative. I appreciate knowing that. To me they’re descriptive. Second, read Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, by Peter Earley. What a sobering book.  It’s a biographical account of Reporter Earley’s son’s mental illness. Simultaneously, it’s an overview, with vivid examples, of how America’s institutions are unprepared for, and overwhelmed by, the needs of people with mental illnesses.

I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to say that cell phones were the best invention ever made for crazy people. For years, it was easy to identify who was “talking to himself,” on the T or the street. Now, I assume it’s someone have a telephone conversation, until Continue reading Mental Instability: on the T

The elusive “soccer mom” (and a bit of Betty Friedan)

Pejorative pigeonholes

Honda Minivan

When we hear, “she’s a soccer mom,” we Americans all know the speaker means that the woman drives her kid, and perhaps their friends, to and from soccer in a minivan. Like all stereotypes, there is additional meaning lurking just below the surface. However, because this stereotype is “coded” with markers of the dominant culture, those of us within any part of that culture may not “read” deeper. A “soccer mom” drives a nice late-model minivan, the family’s second car. Her husband drives the sedan to work. The wife is probably harried by having to organize when she drives which kid where, but has the time to do it: she doesn’t [need to] work for pay. The husband, wife, and children (most likely biological) live in the suburbs. The practice uniforms, because they also have game uniforms, are clean when the kids leave the car and dirty when they come back. Unspoken but especially important to the stereotype is that the soccer mom is white. Continue reading The elusive “soccer mom” (and a bit of Betty Friedan)