With a little more than two weeks before the 45th President of the United States takes office, there continues to be much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands here and around the globe.
Perhaps for good reason; Donald Trump continues his seemingly naive (and some argue treasonous) infatuation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and recently Trump has begun taunting (via Twitter of course) the dangerously unstable Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un. Without delving into the much publicized details of each scenario, both Trump entanglements could have catastrophic consequences.
Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)
In the words of the venerable Hip Hop trio De La Soul, “Stakes is high.”
And the American people seem to have little confidence in the incoming president’s ability, well, to do much of anything competently.
According to the results of a Gallup Poll published January 2, less than half of Americans believe Trump can handle several duties and his numbers lag woefully behind former recent incoming Presidents, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Only 44 percent of respondents believe Trump could prevent major scandals in his administration, compared to 74 percent for Obama and 77 percent for Bush as they entered the Oval Office. Only 46 percent believe in Trump’s capacity to handle an international crisis, compared to 73 percent for Obama, 71 percent for Bush and 70 percent for Clinton. And according to Gallup, only 47 percent of Americans believe Trump will use the military wisely, as opposed to 71 percent for Obama and 78 percent for Bush.
Despite the signs, which foreshadow bedlam in the White House, in Baltimore we are forced to confront our own collective madness as we exit yet another murderous year of epic violence.
2016 was the second most deadly year (318 homicides) on record, only behind 2015 (344 homicides). In comparison, New York City, with a population of 8,550,405 (more than 10 times the population of Baltimore’s 620,961) had 334 homicides.
Further, the population of people experiencing homelessness is burgeoning, affordable housing seems more scarce and Baltimore City Public Schools is reeling under a massive fiscal deficit.
Despite of our challenges, the last live broadcast of First Edition for 2016, focused on “gratitude,” and shed light on the vital community work of a group of dynamic leaders, including Ericka Bridgeford, director of training for Community Mediation Maryland.
“I am most grateful for the ability to love who I am. You know, being a Black girl from inner city West Baltimore with one hand, I spent a lot of my life believing other people’s perceptions of me… I am grateful for learning what loving me looks like and feels like and I’m so appreciative of who I am in the world,” she added.
All too often we fall prey to, `other people’s perceptions of us.’
Despite of what much of the world, the national media and millions of non-Baltimoreans (with minds infused with “Wire” inspired fantasies), think about us, perhaps we should pray and meditate on the real strength of our city, its resilient people.
There are literally thousands of brilliant, courageous and innovative people who plunge into the streets of our city everyday and do the thankless, hard work that sustains thousands of others operating on the fringes of our communities.
The foundation of our neighborhoods are families of every configuration imaginable who hold it down for each other and others, day in and day out fueled by unconditional love.
On Christmas Day, I sat down with one of my favorite families, the family of one of my dearest friends, Lisa Respers France. I met Lisa when she was a young reporter for the Sun back in the mid 1990’s (we’ve been friends ever since), now she’s a senior writer for CNN digital. Breaking bread with her family and savoring her mother, Patricia “Ms. Pat” Respers’ food (arguably the best in Northwest Baltimore) and sipping on brown liquor has been our Christmas tradition for a couple of decades. In Lisa’s words, “decades of love, yo.”
What a wonderful way to wind down what for many was a disastrous 2016.
Despite the good days, bad days and halfway days (to take a line from D’Angelo), we made it out of 2016. And, we have another year, another chance to make things better.
So, give thanks.
Sean Yoes is a senior contributor for the AFRO, and host and executive producer of, AFRO First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday, 5 pm.-7 p.m. on WEAA, 88.9.