Subcultures come and go. If you live in Baltimore, there’s no way that you can’t immediately spot an Unk from miles away. Or a MICA Kid. For those who don’t know, here’s a guide to the five different groups of Baltimoreans you are bound to run into whether you’re at the Gallery or stuck on the West Side today.
The first, sorted from most likely to stare you down to least likely to even be near you, is the aforementioned Unk. An Unk is Baltimore slang for the drunk, tweaked out or just old and loitering. They are typically seen standing outside of a liquor store waiting for you to come out and give them money.
They usually inhabit North Ave and common phrases include: “You got 40 cents?,” “Loose ones!,” and “Aye sweetheart, you got a bus pass you wanna get rid of?” They make people who stay in their Mount Vernon cul de sacs deeply uncomfortable with their glazed over stare and natural drug-induced lean. Just give them 40 cents and move on. They’re generally harmless but you never know.
Next up: The Underground.
You walk down towards The Gallery at the Inner Harbor ready to delve deep into consumerism, when you hear some awful sound. It sounds like a ruined childhood mixed with wobbles. Exactly what is that? Why are all those kids shuffling and looking like they robbed a Hot Topic? Why do they have so many face piercings and look like a mix between an Otaku and a 2007 goth kid? Why are they so old? Those are the Underground kids.
The Underground is an unofficial term for the goth kids that roam around Baltimore and do nothing but shuffle and tattoo each other. They are frequently seen in front of the Gallery downtown or near Club Orpheus down the street. No matter what–they are always shuffling.
Typical phrases muttered by them include “Ew, you listen to Skrillex?” and “You need a tattoo done?” Chances are, you’re friends with someone who is friends with someone else who knows a person in the Underground. They probably won’t talk to you but despite their 2spooky4me appearances, they are actually really nice. You probably should still steer clear of them.
Then, there are the random rappers and “entrepreneurs” who play their mixtapes in the Target at Mondawmin in West Baltimore and on the bus. You can typically find them anywhere and that is not an exaggeration. These would-be rap moguls usually invade your friend’s group smelling like a California marijuana dispensary and then play their mixtape when everyone is too distracted to notice. These types of people are in every city but Baltimore has a special brand of them. You can spot them on Facebook instantly because their name is probably Quan TheRapGawd, 410sfinestdummy or some other egregious nonsense. Unless you are from Baltimore, there is no way you will be able to understand what they are saying. Sometimes they travel in groups and often stand outside of corner stores wearing True Religion but packed 16 in an ‘82 Honda Civic. Typical phrases include: “Wusgooddummy?,” “Aye sweetheart, what’s ya name?,” “Forreal dummy, my joint on Soundcloud. Straight fire *insert fire emoji*.” Unless you really have an interest in their mixtapes, you just keep it moving.
The second least harmless of this bunch is always going to be the MICA Kids, with MICA standing for the Maryland Institute College of Art. They are constantly looking for acceptance for going to an overpriced art school in a less than favorable city. Often they have giant portfolio cases, mismatched, yet trendy, clothes and have never been anywhere outside of Bolton Hill, where MICA is located, or a local thrift store.
They often will come to your party and don’t dance, but help themselves to your Natty Boh. Typical phrases include: “You have any Natty Boh?,” “My Tumblr post got like 2k notes,” and “Baltimore is cool, like I love all the diversity” with a heavy emphasis on diversity. If you want to talk to them, you go ahead. They will probably judge your lack of knowledge of obscure artists however.
Finally, there is the Coppin State University nurses that absolutely love their HBCU. They drive 2012 Nissan Maximas, have really adorable scrubs and have either graduated from Baltimore City Community College, Community Collge of Baltimore County or Coppin.
You probably have a nurse aunt, mom and/or grandma that has urged you to be a nurse because it’s ‘easy money’ and ‘an actual job’. Typical phrases include: “Just be a nurse, being an LPN is so easy,” “You know how much money nurses make?,” and “*insert story about patient here*”. No matter, they always have really nice hair and are typically quite pleasant if you don’t interrupt them in their daily commute. You probably won’t even have a chance to talk to them because they just got called in and you’re in the way.
Whether you’ve been to Baltimore for five minutes or 500 years, you are bound to run into one of these types of Baltimoreans.
Erin-Melissa Jackson is an intern in the Baltimore office of The AFRO-American. She is a junior at Coppin State University.