A quick drive through some of the more desolate parts of East Baltimore will give you some insight into a crisis that is consuming not just Baltimore, but almost every corner of the United States.
The streets are littered with boarded up warehouses and tenement housing-rows and rows of dilapidated, graffiti covered buildings that litter the landscape like tombstones, commemorating a once vibrant city that has succumbed to a trifecta of affliction: economic hardship, racial tension, and rampant drug addiction.
The visceral decay of the city of Baltimore gives insight into the decay of the lives of the people who live there. The riots that shook the city in April of 2015 after Freddie Gray died in police custody came as a shock to many, but the rampant desperation of the city’s residents served as the perfect incubator for the discontent that reached a boiling point not seen in Baltimore since April of 1968 in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. There seems to be a fine line between boredom and rage, and recent events in Baltimore, Ferguson, and elsewhere in the U.S. straddle that line with a dangerous frequency.
In this recent video by Stock Board Asset, we see a city ravaged by a brutal epidemic of opioid addiction, where the only businesses that seem to be thriving in the city are the opioid treatment centers. Gone are the local businesses, social clubs, parks, and church groups that were the hubs of urban social organization. Today, the long lines that form outside of these treatment centers have become the new social commons, as addicts loiter outside smoking, chatting, and nervously looking to get high.