Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore: Rebuilding Abandoned Communities in America


Product Details

Lexington Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 0.9 inches | 0.9 pounds

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About the Author

Marisela B. Gomez is a community activist, author, public health professional, and physician scientist. She received a BS and MS from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, a PHD, MD, and MPH from the Johns Hopkins University. She spent 17 years as an activist/researcher or participant/observer in East Baltimore during and after training at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Past and current writings address social determinants and health, social capital and urban health, disparities in mental health care in incarcerated populations, disparities in substance use treatment, mental health care in the primary health care setting, community organizing and development, and mindfulness practices in organizing. She spends her time between the city and counties of Baltimore, Maryland.


I interviewed Marisela Gomez for my Baltimore Magazine article, The Outer Harbor, in early 2006, when she was Director of SMEAC. She impressed me then as a bright and passionate young woman, a rare combination of academic preparation and street smarts. Those qualities shine through in her book.
Marisela Gomez has written an extraordinary book about the confrontation between the fragile and distressed Middle East neighborhood of Baltimore and the city's most powerful institutions, including the closest neighborhood, Johns Hopkins Medical. Her clear and calm voice guides us through a distressing story of exclusion and expulsion, using the exploration of the harms that process did to help us find a better way to revitalize all American neighborhoods. This book is must reading for everyone concerned with the American city, community development, health and health care, medicine and public health. Five stars!
Avidly exposing the present and ongoing consequences of race, economic, and institutional power inequities that still strangle a historically marginalized urban community, Gomez's book is a powerfully sobering reminder of the absolute necessity for residents to organize, sustain their own bases of power, and exert their collective vision for the rebuilding of their communities.
This book is a compelling example of community research that is sensitive to the intricate ways in which power is exercised. Focusing on efforts to redevelop East Baltimore, the author examines the complicated intersection of the African American community with the power brokers from city government, Johns Hopkins University, and philanthropic foundations. Activist and physician Gomez does a masterful job of telling the story of a neighborhood in trouble and its confrontation with the various parts of the urban growth machine. Middle East Baltimore becomes the site of a struggle between Johns Hopkins and the community over the expansion of the Johns Hopkins medical complex and the proposed development of a biotech research park by the university. Gomez's focus is on attempts of the East Baltimore community to organize resistance to the "negro removal" planned by Johns Hopkins. The author demonstrates how powerful actors can promote their plans and thwart the efforts of citizens to rebuild their community in a way that works for them. This is a carefully researched account of all the actors in this struggle. In the final chapters, the author demonstrates that other communities have confronted these issues in more humane, transparent, and democratic ways. Summing Up: Highly recommended.