27 March 2013

Kids Should Own the City

While in Paris for the first time, Ta-Nehisi Coates notices something about how children live in the city. ..they have freedom ... I think anyone who has traveled to Europe is sure to notice. The perspective is different than mine, but spot on:

"..I was watching the children here, lost in their strange freedom unlike anything I've ever known. They range the city--embracing, grazing, laughing. 

When I was a kid in West Baltimore the cops called this loitering. Childhood was a suspect class always bordering on the edge of the criminal. You play football on the traffic island and the cops chase you off. Never mind that it's the only long patch of green in your neighborhood. You fly your kites from the second level of Mondawmin Mall and the les gendarmes are in effect. Go back to watching the Wonder Years and dreaming. You nail a crate to a telephone pole, because all the courts near you have been stripped. The city doesn't send people to repair the courts, but to tear down your crate. Perhaps somewhere in Paris it is the same. But what I have seen is a place with a different sense of the Public, with children loosed in such a way that I have not seen even in wealthy areas. 

In America you structure the lives of your children, or they will be structured by the hands of all you fear. A child's mind is naturally devilish, and needs correction even more than safety. .."

 Re-read that last sentence.  And that's not even the best part of his blog entry today. He seems to be on a roll of good writing lately. You should check it out.

  Previous CityKin post on Coates

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