Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baltimore City needs to support its A-rabbers, dammit!

Something is sticking in my craw right now. It's soapbox time!!!

I am listening to the Mid Day with Dan Rodricks show on WYPR right now. As you may know, the city has dealt its next blow in its quest to end the A-rabber tradition in Baltimore, by having the horses seized for living in inhumane conditions. According to the A-rabber spokespersons on the show today, the city really hasn't bothered to help them find a place to keep the horses in cleaner conditions. Of course, they never intended to.

This frustrates me, because sometimes the A-rabbers - who now may have much more difficulty paying the bills - are the only source of fresh food to some communities in Baltimore. The horses need to be treated humanely, but the City has an obligation so far as I am concerned to help the A-rabbers do this. These folks aren't independently wealthy, and I can only assume that most of them probably cannot house their horses on their own. The intentions of the humane society in seizing them are noble so far as keeping the horses healthy, but a little racist as far as disregarding the livelihood of the A-rabbers, who are disproportionately African-American. Again, I blame this more on the city than the humane society, who are just doing their job to keep the horses healthy.

So that's my opinion: the city should be stepping in to help the A-rabbers find a place to keep their horses in clean and safe areas, perhaps find a way to give training or even create a few jobs in this bad economy by hiring a handful of people to care for the horses. Optimistic on my part, but I feel this is the only way to protect this tradition, the A-rabbers, the horses and the consumers who may rely on the A-rabber carts for produce.

What do y'all think? What should happen with the A-rabbers and their horses, and this important city tradition?

Picture linked from the Arabber Preservation Society homepage.


Mairead said...

While it's obviously not a perfect solution, especiall for those without drivers licenses, why not use pickups? Either the city, with some caveats (must be used for sale of food in otherwise grocery-store deprived areas, 10% of profits must go back to City all for X number of years, or something) or car dealerships (who could then hype the hell out of "aiding the community" as well as painting ads on the sides of the donated vehicles) could front some of the cash to help pay for those cars. Better yet, the city could call it remuneration for the appropriation of the A-rabbers' property (the horses).

While a pickup would have drawbacks (higher bed makes it harder to see and access foodstuffs, possibly smaller cart space, pollution, parking a pickup in Bmore is a Holy Grail of a quest, etc.), it would be cheaper than horses, as well as nixing the city's objections. It's a quick fix until someone smarter than me, and charging a very large consulting fee, can come up with a better idea. :)