Why having a kid means moving away
D. Watkins from East Baltimore is how I'm often introduced. I'm proud of that, because being from East Baltimore to me means resiliency, heart, grit, and a willingness to take chances.
One time in North Carolina, I mouthed off to a pack of angry cops like they don't essentially have a license to kill people who look like me. In Cairo I paid a taxi driver to let me wheel his car around so I could feel like a local. I walked through Abuja, Nigeria, weeks after the United Nations building was bombed, even though I could still smell the smoke. Why? Probably because I'm from East Baltimore, and I always feel like I’ve seen worse.
Before I found out my wife Caron was pregnant, I was also "D. Watkins who's never leaving East Baltimore." Navy SEALs couldn't drag me out. These streets are part of me: every block, the couch in Latrobe, then off to Calvert Street. East Baltimore was home.
In fact, the day my wife told me that she was pregnant, I started looking for houses with yards in one of the safer East Baltimore neighborhoods, like Charles Village or Original Northwood in northeast. I don't even know why I suddenly cared so much about having a yard — I never had a yard growing up — but it seems like good parents have yards for their kids. I decided my son — I don't know why I assumed it would be a son — would have a house with a nice yard, in the safest East Baltimore neighborhood.
Then I found out we were having a daughter, and suddenly "safe East Baltimore" seemed like an oxymoron. Raising her in a community we know so well is also scary. Will our daughter get the chance to create her own legacy, or be forced to ride the wave of accumulated privilege we have created for her? Between my wife and I, we know everybody here: politicians, rappers, teachers, gang members, pastors, pimps, drug lords, award-winning chefs, the law, and the entire art community, it seems.