Harlem Park is the name of one of the bleakest, meanest neighborhoods on Baltimore's West-side. The nasty scourges of heroin, crack, and a host of other inner-city drug and criminal activity are as prolific in Harlem Park as they are in far too many other neighborhoods around Baltimore City (also known as Charm City), and many other American cities as well.
Two notable television dramas; HBO's, The Corner and NBC's, Homicide: Life on the Streets have explored and dramatized many of Baltimore City's societal ills. Both television productions explored, in excruciating detail, the ravages of heroin and its attendant criminal activity on the daily lives of the citizens of Charm City where heroin is nothing less than an epidemic. There is also the frequent national news coverage of the more outrageous murders and assorted mayhem plaguing this relatively small metropolis.
In Black In White looks at the lives of some of the people who have worked, played, loved and died on Baltimore's mean streets. It examines a time (1960's -70's) before the periods examined in the aforementioned television shows; a time when life was still dangerous and hard; but perhaps when the neighborhood still retained some of the charm for which Baltimore is sometimes noted. It was a time of great social upheaval and seeming great promise, despite the desperate circumstances of day-to-day life.
This is Harlem Park as seen through the eyes of someone actually living squarely in the midst of the fray, someone determined to find another 'choice' through the impossible miracle of a scholarship to the all-boys St. Paul's Episcopal School in Concord, New Hampshire, an exclusive private boarding school; the same school attended by one-time presidential candidate Senator John Kerry, cartoonist Jules Feiffer and numerous other elite American families and luminaries.
Among several other themes, In Black In White looks at the idea of nature versus nurture. It's the story of the 'two educations' of a black youth; an education derived from attendance in the Baltimore City Public Schools and surviving that city's streets; and then an education acquired from time spent in the ivy-covered halls of one of the finest boarding schools in America, living and learning daily among some of the most privileged youth in this country.
The outcome is anything but certain. Both places have the potential for chewing a body to bits; both places inhabited by some good and not-so-good people.
In Black In White is a story about coming of age, forging relationships, success and failure, life and death and moving on. It provides an intimate glimpse into two very different worlds; which in the final analysis may not be all that different.