The event known alternatively as the Baltimore Riots or the Baltimore Uprising (depending on your point of view) that started in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death have opened all kinds of old memories for me. That’s because I was born at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore and I lived on Yale Avenue in West Baltimore for the first five years of my life. Then my family moved south to nearby Glen Burnie, where I lived until I was 19 when I transferred to the University of Maryland at College Park. After I finished college at 22, I moved back to Glen Burnie where I lived with my parents for 10 months until I got married at 23 and moved closer to Washington, DC.

I wrote the other day about how I wasn’t surprised that the recent violence in Baltimore. In that same entry I wrote about how I’m half expecting something similar to happen in Glen Burnie because, for a white female like me, that place was a bigger hellhole than Baltimore was. That’s because I never had an African American resident of Baltimore call me “retarded” or threaten to beat me up on a regular basis. I’ve walked around and driven through some really awful areas of Baltimore without encountering the kind of shit that I used to encounter in Glen Burnie.

My early memories of Baltimore were kind of idyllic. I remember my grandmother (who lived with us) used to walk with me to this nearby drug store, which had a soda fountain and lunch counter. I remember my grandmother used to sometimes buy me a soda or ice cream or some other dessert. Other times my grandmother and I used to walk to a nearby playground.

Things changed once we moved to Glen Burnie. There were no playgrounds in my new neighborhood when we first arrived because our development was brand new. (I wouldn’t see playgrounds for another few years and, even then, I had to walk at least 15 minutes in order to get to the nearest one.) Everything was not within close walking distance and one needed a car to do even simple things like buying groceries because the stores and restaurants were spread far apart from each other.

Then there were the other kids in my neighborhood. For some reason I got a reputation as the “retarded kid” and I frequently heard “you’re retarded” or “mentally retarded” all the way through high school. I grew up in a majority white area and I’m white myself. I’m living proof that if white kids can’t find minorities to harrass and beat up, they’ll get creative and turn to other white kids who they think are somehow “inferior” for whatever reason (no matter how minor).

I previously wrote about my encounters with these other kids here and here so I don’t need to go into details that I already posted about.

I had plenty of encounters with bullies growing up. But there was one bully in particular who was the most memorable because she was so incredibly brazen in what she did that she seemed borderline crazy and psycho to me. I met her in the eighth grade, when we both attended Old Mill Middle School-North, a public school in Anne Arundel County that has gotten mixed reviews online ranging from one star to two stars to four stars.

The bullying started early in the school year and didn’t let up. She would say that she didn’t like the way I looked at her or the way I dressed or some other trivial bullshit excuse. She never missed an opportunity to hit me. I’ll never forget the time when I had to go to the bathroom in between classes and she followed me. She proceeded to punch the hell out of me and she didn’t let up until I managed to run out the door.

It had gotten so bad that a good day for me was one where she would be absent. There were days throughout the school year when she didn’t show up so I would have these enjoyable mini vacations from her bullying.

We were both suspended from school after a teacher saw her trying to beat me up in the hallway yet again and I tried to defend myself. I got a lesser suspension than she did because there were witnesses who said that the other girl started it. After being home for three days I returned to school where classmates told me that they actually saw that girl on the perimeter of the school property a few times looking for me (even though she was suspended just like I was) while calling my name and asking students if they had seen me. Sure enough the next day, when I was walking to school and I was close to the perimeter of the school property, she was standing across the street from me yelling threats at me.

I’ve seen other kids get suspended before and they usually made themselves scarce at school during the suspension time by staying home while doing things like watching TV or reading books or doing various stuff around the house. This girl decided to spend her suspension time going close to the school perimeter property border looking for me like a total psycho.

Then there’s the end of the school year. We had all gotten our yearbooks and we were having our classmates and teachers autograph them. Here is what my eighth grade yearbook looked like.

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So during some downtime in one of my classes I handed my yearbook off to a classmate whom I liked so she could sign it. This bullying bitch, who happened to be near the classmate who was signing my yearbook then grabs it out of her hands, announces to me “I’m signing your yearbook!”, signs it, then tossed it my way. Here is what that page of autographs looked like.

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And here is her signature, up close and personal, complete with her name and everything.

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This is the only time I ever had a bully put it down in writing what she did to me and sign her name. Notice how she seemed to blame me for her obsession with beating me up. I never once intentionally said or did anything to provoke her. She did it on her own. Since she was stupid enough to sign my yearbook where she basically confessed everything, I can reveal her name in this post. Her name was Cindy Moog.

I tried looking for a photo of her in that yearbook but I think she was absent on picture day because I didn’t see one. I found a ninth grade photo that was published in the high school yearbook the following year.

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She never got punished for writing that message in my yearbook for this reason: This incident happened about a few days before the school year ended. Cindy and I were among the eighth graders who would be transferred to high school the following fall so it would’ve been difficult for the middle school to punish her. So she got away with it for a number of years—until now.

It’s only too bad that the World Wide Web as we know it didn’t exist back then because I probably would’ve waited until I was in my senior year of high school and posted these scans online so any potential college or trade school would’ve Googled her name and found what she did. I don’t know if posting these scans will even do anything to affect her reputation now but I feel like I’ve gotten a load off of my chest doing this.

After eighth grade we both moved on to high school and the ninth grade. The next year we ended up not having any classes in common so, miraculously, the beatings stopped since she didn’t know my schedule. There were times when I would spot her from afar in the hallways during class changing times but she never looked my way and I did my best to avoid her. It was also when she had further trouble. The previous year Cindy Moog had a boyfriend (who was also in the eighth grade but they were in different classes) and there were times when the boyfriend joined in on the teasing and beating as well (although he didn’t do them as frequent as Cindy did). They continued being a romantic couple in the ninth grade until something happened just a few months into the school year. According to rumors I heard at the time, Cindy decided to drop her boyfriend for some reason that I still don’t know to this day. Her boyfriend became so despondent that he attempted suicide by shooting himself in the stomach. While he survived that attempt, word got around school about what happened.

I remember he briefly went back to school for a while after his wounds healed but then he left and I never saw him again. I also remember that Cindy had disappeared soon after that incident and I never saw her again either. I looked in subsequent high school yearbooks and she wasn’t in any of them. She probably transferred to a different school or maybe even dropped out altogether. I recently tried a Google search on her name but I came up empty, which indicates one of three scenarios: 1) she got married and changed her last name, 2) she’s currently in prison, or 3) she’s dead.

My reputation at school had never quite recovered from what Cindy Moog and the other bullies had done to me. All throughout high school and my freshman year at community college there were my fellow classmates who continued to talk down to me as if I was some inferior lowlife and it persisted. I knew that had I remained in Glen Burnie my future as a well-adjusted adult would’ve been in jeopardy and it could’ve affect my ability to get married or even get a job (especially if a former classmate who felt I was inferior was the one doing the hiring for a company). I don’t regret leaving Glen Burnie and I’m far happier where I’m living now.

Some of you reading this may note that there are bullies everywhere and it’s not a particular Glen Burnie phenomenon. Here’s the thing, I’m not the only person who has experienced the worst of Glen Burnie first-hand. In one of my previous posts mentioned that I wouldn’t be surprised if an incident involving a white cop and a young African American man happened in Glen Burnie. It’s not hyperbole either. That town is full of white racist rednecks who have no problem with making racist and homophobic remarks and they are also eager to pick on fellow whites whom they somehow deem as “different.” A few years ago, when I participated in the Sex. Art. Rock N Roll. event in Baltimore, I had a brief conversation with the MC for that evening, Misty Barfly, who lived in Glen Burnie. When I mentioned that I grew up there, she called that town a “hellhole” and I agreed with her.

Despite the Glen Burnie intolerance, there is a person named Britney Girl Dale who walks around Route 2/Ritchie Highway (which is one of the main drags through Glen Burnie) wearing sparkly clothes and dancing to dance pop songs by the likes of Madonna and Britney Spears. He has recently become the subject of a short 20-minute documentary where he faces people who have made homophobic remarks. Yet he continues on in his quest to be himself in a hostile town.

The hostility expressed in that documentary is just a small sample of what Britney Girl Dale and filmmaker Dan Bell encountered while making the documentary. In an interview with 98 Rock, Dan Bell speaks in detail about the hostile things that the locals in both Brooklyn and Glen Burnie have hurled at them simply because Dale Crites likes to dress as a female and dance in public.

Here’s an excerpt from another story about when a man made a trip to Glen Burnie back in 1989.

In 1989 I was on break from college and driving through my hometown of Glen Burnie, Maryland. Can’t remember what my intentions were or where I was going, but I noticed a group of about twelve protesters, all white, with signs standing at a busy intersection. I slowed down to see what their signs said and couldn’t believe my eyes.

“I ain’t afraid of no spook”
“Hey yo—is yo black and a criminal—call NAACP 1-800-NIGGERS”

The protests were triggered by the NAACP looking into possible police misconduct in a case where a black man was alleged to have killed two white kids. When the police found him, he was allegedly brandishing a knife, so they shot him dead on the street.

But another sign showed they were also upset that Nelson Mandela had been released from prison.

I parked my car and walked over to the group. I asked them what it was all about. “You’re ridiculous,” I said.

“Fuck you,” a skinhead teenager replied.

So I rooted around in my car and found a large piece of cardboard. I walked to the nearby movie theater and asked the kids working there (mostly black) if they had a marker I could borrow. When I told them what was happening they were as incensed as I was, and they all said they would be making signs and showing up as soon as their shift ended. They found a large black marker for me and I made my sign—with the straightforward message “RACISTS OUT.”

I walked down to the protest. Two Anne Arundel County cops were standing nearby, looking rather bored behind their mirrored sunglasses. I also noticed a reporter talking to one of the younger protesters.

I stood next to the group and when they saw my sign they started hassling me.

“Racists out? What are you, a nigger lover?”

“Faggot” got thrown at me, along with other taunts. I noticed people were honking and giving them thumbs-up. What century am I living in, I wondered? It felt utterly surreal.

An old man—who it became obvious was the leader of the group—approached me. “What’s your name?” he asked. I told him. “Mike Hughes,” he said. “I’ll remember that. Do you live around here? Why don’t you come to my house and we’ll talk about this sometime?” He grinned.

At that point a young kid—maybe eight-years-old at most—started kicking me. “Nigger lover!” he repeated over and over.

– See more at: http://michaelmhughes.com/there-was-no-problem-until-you-got-here-more-on-race-and-policing/#sthash.QfBPCo1c.dpuf

This is why I think Glen Burnie is a powder keg that could potentially go off just as bad as what happened in Baltimore. I’m only glad that I got out of there when I did. Despite my hip problems and my divorce, my adult life is still a vast improvement over my childhood in Glen Burnie.

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