Lisa Philip's article for the Howard County Times, "Report points to racial divide in Howard County school suspensions" presents some disturbing numbers.
"According to a report issued to the African American Community Roundtable by the Howard County school system, black students in the county were 7 times more likely to be suspended than their white classmates during the 2013 to 2014 school year, the most recent year included in the report."
Seven times more likely.
I'm equally disturbed to learn that AACR asked for this information three years ago but only just received it this past June. That doesn't feel very responsive to me.
I'm not going to focus on the article itself today. Instead, it's the comments that floored me. HoCoTimes puts up articles on many different aspects of community life and often there are no comments whatsoever. Maybe just one or two from those diehards who just cannot restrain themselves.
But watch what happens when they talk about a racial divide. Suddenly everyone's an expert. There are 98 comments. Whether or not you believe that the suspension rate is a sign of institutionalized racism, reading the comments will make it painfully clear that we have a problem in Howard County.
It is beyond my comprehension that so many of these people think they are experts on African American students: their behavior, culture, family life, speech, potential, value to society... The comments section is home to Howard County's own Donald Trump wannabe's. And it's scary. And disgusting.
All these people are able to post under pseudonyms. I truly wish that every single one of these people had to use their own names. It would be lovely if their comments were printed on their clothing, or followed them around In floating speech bubbles over their heads. Everyone should know who these people truly are--employers, businesses they patronize, their friends, family, pastors, co-workers, fellow members of social organizations.
There is a whole mess of invisible racism hiding in the shadows of Howard County. We need a lot of light shining on this. Letting it fester in the darkness and pretending it's not there is no solution at all.