Baltimore Youth Learn: There’s No Such Thing As a Good Politician

Representatives of Peer to Peer Youth Enterprises (a coalition of youth organizations employed by the city of Baltimore) shouted “ZERO DOLLARS IS NOT A NEGOTIATION!” in disappointment after meeting with Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon to ask for more funding.

After a Peer to Peer Youth Enterprises (P2P) Extravaganza, and a Sleep-Out titled Operation Occupation in front of City Hall, Peer to Peer organized a 5 day hunger strike.

P2P employes youth to pass on knowledge to their peers, involving groups such as the Baltimore Algebra Project, Baltimore Urban Debate League, Hip Hop Congress Baltimore, Wide Angle Youth Media and Kids on the Hill.

When Mayor Dixon asked P2P to work with her and compromise, students decided to suspend the hunger strike until negotiations were complete but left the meeting with zero dollars. Mayor Dixon said she’ll work with P2P youth but did not schedule another meeting. Even after many emails, phone calls, and press conferences where P2P demanded another meeting with Mayor Dixon for true negotiations, Mayor Dixon still never met.

This campaign for $3 million from Baltimore City budget for youth jobs in the knowledge based economy helped me to sharpen my understanding of class struggle and the role some youth play as flunkies for the capitalists.

When P2P youth organizers met with Mayor Dixon during the hunger strike, present in the meeting were members of her Youth Commission, the so called youth voice of the city where each young person represents a district of the city. This youth Commission holds no power and works as a front for politicians to say that they work with youth. The role of the Youth Commissioners in the meeting with the Mayor was to try to convince P2P organizers that we shouldn’t ask the Mayor for funding for youth employment but raise the millions of dollars ourselves through fundraisers.

The P2P campaign demanding three million dollars from the city budget is only a small investment in Baltimore’s youth. Three million dollars can employ up to 1,000 young people who will teach up to 6,000 young people.

After trusting that Mayor Dixon would negotiate and compromise, and after the City Council gave false hopes in finding three million dollars in the city’s budget, P2P decided to use this summer to build a larger base of supporters and build fundraising strategies.

A couple of PLP comrades are tightly involved in the Peer to Peer Movement. There are students in P2P who are fed up with the poor and racist conditions of Baltimore City and its politicians. The special thing about Baltimore is that a good number of youth have been involved in political struggle and truly want change, they just need to be introduced to the Progressive Labor Party’s ideas.

Believing that politicians will negotiate and compromise with students to gain economic justice and provide employment and quality education is a false hope under capitalism. All politicians are puppets to the capitalist class and workers are not yet organized enough to hold them accountable to their lies. To end this madness of unemployment and mis-education we need communist revolution and less conversations with politicians at City Hall.

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