By Ke’Aun Charles,
Special to the AFRO
With Gov. Wes Moore’s historic win in 2022, the large presence of the Legislative Maryland Black Caucus in state government and wealthy Black areas such as Prince George’s County, Maryland have the potential to become something we have never seen before in America: a center of institutional Black Power.
This Black Power is not the Black Power of yesteryear. It is not necessarily the power of the streets and of grassroots activists, although they are important, of course, and have roles to play. Indeed, it is the difference between a pro-African grassroots organization, for example, and two pro-African U.S. senators (special shout out to Sen. Van Hollen). It is the difference between demanding that police be held accountable from the picket line, and demanding that police be held accountable from the State House.
It is all the difference in the world. Maryland’s Black Power leaves no one behind– Black or not.
Under Gov. Moore, Maryland has proudly stepped up to defend the rights of LGBT+ communities – particularly the trans community, who has been under withering assault from the GOP across the country. Maryland also has joined other Blue states in defending abortion access, the rights of immigrants and environmental protections.
Black Power, feared by so many for so long, is proving to be a vital defense against Republican oppression. As states like neighboring West Virginia sink further into a Red abyss, Maryland stands strong.
Still, there is much more that can be done.
Maryland can, and should, promote itself as a beacon for Blacks across the country – particularly in the deep Red “Heartland” states that are becoming more anti-Black by the day. A combination of good marketing and good policy could bring a population and investment boom to the Free State.
For example, African Americans have long been blocked from homeownership in the country, which goes a long way to explaining the racial wealth gap. Maryland just so happens to have a ton of cheap, vacant homes in need of investment and repair in Baltimore. Maryland’s government should create major incentives to spur the rehabilitation and occupation of these homes. While Annapolis absolutely should not limit ownership of these homes based on race, it should market these incentives heavily to Blacks in the heartland states who are likely looking to move out anyway.
In this way Baltimore can begin its healing process and take its rightful place as the crown jewel in the Free State. African Americans can finally take part in homeownership and wealth building, and Maryland further solidifies its place as a beacon for the new Black Power– a Black Power that fights for everyone.
There is more that could be done, and I don’t presume to have an exhaustive list. But I think it’s time that Maryland and the nation as a whole recognize that we are standing at the dawn of a new era, an era that the Free State should lead.
Ke’Aun Charles is a writer with a focus on African Diaspora and Continental African politics and economics. He holds a B.A. in English from Goucher College and currently lives in San Francisco.