By Jill Rosen
The Baltimore Sun
ABOVE PHOTO: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
(Photo courtesy Balimore City Council)
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wasn’t exactly jumping when Jada Pinkett Smith asked for her help in protecting elephants earlier this week.
The mayor more or less says she had bigger fish to fry — that and the actress didn’t help her out when the city needed it.
But Friday Pinkett Smith’s aunt, who runs the Baltimore-based charity of the actress, said her niece has done quite a bit for the city — and she’s a surprised that the mayor doesn’t remember it.
“People listening to what [the mayor] said would think Jada Pinkett hasn’t done anything for Baltimore and that’s not true,” said Karen Evans, “I wanted to set the record straight.”
Evans also fired off a letter to City Hall, telling the mayor: “Your response to her letter was disturbing, irresponsible, inflammatory and inaccurate.”
Earlier last week, Pinkett Smith, working with the animal activist group PETA, sent Rawlings-Blake a letter, writing, she wrote, “as a mother and proud Baltimore native.”
Pinkett Smith wanted to make sure no elephants were jabbed with bullhooks during the upcoming performance of Ringling Bros. Circus’ at 1st Mariner Arena. The pointed tools are commonly used to coax the animals into performing at the show.
“Unlike me and other actors, elephants do not choose to perform,” Pinkett Smith wrote. “These endangered elephants will soon be in your jurisdiction. My friends at PETA and I join animal advocates across the state in asking for your leadership in holding Ringling accountable and requiring the circus to comply with Baltimore’s absolute prohibition of the use of devices such as bullhooks.”
But Rawlings-Blake wan’t moved, telling WJZ that since the actress hasn’t helped with Baltimore’s big issues, she wasn’t too concerned about the elephant. Plus, she really likes the circus.
“We’ve reached out about homelessness, about school issues,” Rawlings-Blake told WJZ. “I would have loved to gotten some feedback, support or concern about those issues that are very pressing to the city.”
Evans said she was “just really taken aback” by the mayor’s undercut.
She pointed out the million dollars Pinkett Smith gave to the Baltimore School for the Arts in 2006. The yearly contributions to Associated Black Charities. Money for the Park Heights Community Health Alliance. Money to help area schools buy books. Money for the James Mosher Little League.
“The mayor should take a little more time in her responses,” Evans said. “I just was very disappointed in her.”
Meanwhile, Evans also didn’t understand why the mayor didn’t take Pinkett Smith’s concern about the elephants seriously.
“Jada,” she said, “is an animal activist and she believes all living things have a right to be treated humanely.”
Evans concluded her letter to the mayor: “Jada is a proud Baltimorean who has generously given back to her hometown and will continue to do so. I hope that at the end of your administration you will be able to say that you have made as positive an impact as she has.”
Leave a Comment