In 2015 I documented oral histories of life-long residents of West Baltimore in order to capture a snippet of the neighborhoods' social autobiography. I ask questions of participants not only to record the past and document some of the changes the neighborhoods have undergone through the years, but also to imagine the future of the neighborhoods according to what these residents would like to see.
When I first moved to Baltimore, the dueling narratives that exist within the city immediately caught my attention. On one hand there were reports of crime, drugs, and violence perpetuated by the media and by typically white, middle class Baltimoreans residing in the “nice” neighborhoods in the city. On the other, there were chronicles of resilience, and perseverance that many Black, low-income life-long residents of Baltimore living all across the city shared with me during the time I lived and worked there.
Within this dichotomous landscape, I found it valuable to explore the constant revisiting, reinvisioning, and renegotiating of these narratives by juxtaposing the oral histories with clips from the Baltimore City Police scanners. Thrown together, these audio pieces battle for dominance to determine who, or what gets to tell the story of Baltimore City.