Brandon Scott‘s name will undoubtedly be added to the list of emerging young Black mayors elected to metropolitan cities across America, but it was his afro that became the central focus when he was sworn into office.
Scott, a 36-year-old progressive Democrat, ran on a platform of reform in an effort to divest from previous old-guard politics which left Black and brown Baltimoreans at a disadvantage.
Baltimore is also still healing from the 2015 death and subsequent trial of Freddie Gray’s murder, coupled with the loss of Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District covering portions of Baltimore.
Scott was sworn in Wednesday during a private ceremony and flanked by his family, marking the beginning of what some hope to be a resurgence, where previous city leadership left in a swarm of ethical violations and controversy.
Social media users gave Scott his props on his fully picked afro which represents a sense of pride as well as a diversion from respectability politics hinging on the idea that everyone must conform to white standards of comfort.
Pulitzer-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones pointed out the gloriousness of Scott’s crown on Twitter.
“This gotta be one of the Blackest haircuts in mayoral history. Much respect,” she wrote retweeting a photo of Scott’s official headshot.
Others pointed out the sheer crispness of his lineup and fade.
The former city councilman knows the importance of representation and took time to speak with a group of sixth-grade students, where one questioned him about his hair.
“It’s funny that you say that because if I think about my life I had more years with long hair than short hair. So this is actually normal for me,” he replied.
“I also want you to know that your hair—don’t let anyone tell you what your amount of success can be,” he continued.
As the city’s youngest mayor in more than a century, Scott promised to decrease racial inequity and address the rising homicide rate which he proclaimed a public health crisis.
As one of his first orders of business, Scott initiated an executive order that included tougher restrictions on outdoor and indoor dining. Restaurants will be closed across the city and will be capped at “25 percent of capacity for retail and religious institutions, gyms, malls and museums,” The Baltimore Sun reported. The new restrictions go into effect Friday at 5 p.m.
Baltimore, a majority Black city (more than 62 percent of residents are Black) continues to see a surge in coronavirus cases as numbers are expected to go up due to the holiday season and colder temperatures.
Black communities and other minority populations remain facing unique challenges in the fight against COVID-19, signaling a war that needs to be waged on systemic structures that can result in chronic disease and comorbidities.
During his swearing-in, Scott pledged to be a leader who will keep his constituents’ needs at the forefront.
“As your mayor I am unafraid to do the right thing over the popular one, even if it hurts me politically, because this term is about doing what is required to chart a new path, save lives and prepare Baltimore for a prosperous and equitable future,” he vowed.