Squeegee workers: If you live in Baltimore, you probably have thoughts about them. You might even be sick of talking about them.
But after the latest flashpoint in the decades-long acrimony around this kind of work — in which Hampden-based engineer Timothy Reynolds was shot and killed by a still-unidentified squeegee worker last Thursday near the Inner Harbor — the city and region must yet again discuss the social, economic, racial and interpersonal tensions that underscore this issue.
Those discussions also necessarily take place among economic and startup leaders like Conscious Venture Lab founder Jeff Cherry, who invited several other notable entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders to speak about the issue Tuesday. The result was a candid and urgent conversation between Cherry, Early Charm Ventures Executive Officer Ken Malone, Fearless CEO Delali Dzirasa and the Revival Baltimore hotel’s director of culture and impact, Jason Bass.
Cherry, who held the discussion over Zoom before putting it on his “Capitalism: The Remix” podcast’s streaming pages, said the chat spun out of more informal ones he’d had with the other participants during an industry event the night of the shooting. He recalled discussing how this issue is undeniably “racially charged,” as nearly all of the workers are Black teens and young men who solicit cash to squeegee windshields at busy intersections (including one at the base of I-83, one of the nation’s many highways that further segregated already redlined Black neighborhoods). But beyond this racial dynamic are issues of economic injustice, gun violence and divestment that push people into this kind of work, Cherry noted.
“The sort of genesis of this whole thing was that we have to talk about what happened in the context of the bigger picture,” Cherry told Technical.ly. “The bigger picture has to do with inclusive economics. It has to do with race. It has to do with guns. It has to do with ‘us versus them.’ We think that lots of people don’t think about the squeegee work as part of us. We’re just trying to sort of open up this conversation about [how] this is about all of us.”
Cherry also highlighted the crowdfunding page that Reynolds’ widow co-created to support his family, which he also shared on the episode page. Speaking of, you can listen to that entire conversation via Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other places where podcasts are streamed.
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