Monday, May 8, 2017

You Can't Unsee It

I'm a big fan of some of the more whimsical online accounts such as Col Gateway, Ms. Frizz, and, of course, Mr. Trash Wheel. Not only is Mr. Trash Wheel fun, but he's doing his bit to clean up the Inner Harbor and educate folks on how to change habits that lead to pollution. It's a beautiful combination.

Recently Mr. Trash Wheel teamed with Peabody Heights Brewery to create a limited edition ale which will benefit Healthy Harbor. Here's a video from the release party.

My first response was: this is so much fun! This is what I want to see in Columbia 50th celebrations!

My second response, coming fast upon the first, was: oh my word. Everyone is white.*

Once you start seeing it, you can't unsee it.

There are so many ways our lives are segregated. I keep remembering what a woman in front of me said at an African American Community Roundtable event last year at HCC. I can't quote her word-for-word, but the gist of her comment was that black people had to cope with and deal with white people all the time, but the same was not true in the reverse. It was possible for white people to live and work and play and have little to no contact with people of other races. Knowing how to interact was not essential for success or survival. Being around lots of other white people was just "the norm."

It is possible, as a white person, to be oblivious to this and still survive. And succeed.

This has profound implications for how we address issues of race in a culture where whites still hold a position of privilege, often while unaware of how entrenched that privilege is. It effects how community members feel about creating the Diversity Coordinator position in the Howard County Schools. It influences opinions on whether or not we have de facto segregation in our school system. Whether conscious or unconscious, it is there.

As we look at a better future for our school system, I hope we consider what an amazing opportunity we have to address this with our children. What better place to start than the place where we all come together? Better policies now are a long-term investment for our future. Do we want to perpetuate segregation or open the doors to true integration?

Diversity Is Being Invited to the Party; Inclusion Is Being Asked to Dance

As you go through your week, I suggest that you keep your eyes open to see who is invited to the party and who is asked to dance.

Questions or Comments? Post them here:

*A postscript: this post is not meant to criticize the Healthy Harbor initiative in any way, but rather to show how my gaze has changed and what that means to me.

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