Ron Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is correct when he says that there is a “surfeit of history here, in terms of Hopkins’ relationship with the city” (“The university as pillar of the community”, Features, 9 February). While briefly alluding to some aspects of that troubled history, the article’s central claim that the university’s activities “help locals build richer, healthier, more inclusive cities” is being challenged by many who live and work in the city. Johns Hopkins University’s continuing justification of its role in the dispossession and displacement of hundreds of low-income African American families close to its East Baltimore medical campus – documented by Marisela Gomez in her 2012 book Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore – is perhaps the most egregious recent example. The “appropriate consternation and scepticism” of which Daniels speaks was in fact a reaction to what was an institutionally racist land grab, as commented on recently by The Washington Post (“Johns Hopkins Hospital inspires mistrust and fear in parts of East Baltimore”, 2 February 2017).
Times Higher Education gave publicity to only one side of this contentious story: the side of power, influence and white privilege, rather than the repressed voices of the dispossessed. By ignoring the opinions and resistance of a community when writing about that community, THE is actively contributing to the perpetuation of structural racism and inequality.
Department of the history of medicine
Johns Hopkins University