Sunday, January 20, 2019


‘It's not a pretty world, Papa.' 'I've noticed,' my father said softly.
Chaim Potok, My Name is Asher Lev

I’m having a hard time processing the overwhelming racism, white privilege, and bullying that was on view Friday at the intersection of the March for Life and the Indigenous People’s March in Washington.

I wish I had something meaningful to say here. I think I have said it all before. Many others have said it better. 

Certainly this is yet another example of the toxic masculinity of white boys at work here. We can see that quite clearly in the video clip. What we don’t see is the school that molded them, the parents that raised them, the Church that enabled them, the culture that gave them a sense of superiority. They’re not on camera but they are very much present and all must bear responsibility.

But will they? 

Over and over in our society, the powerful separate themselves off into enclaves where they are the center of the universe and only their voices matter. Should they ever venture out of that bubble, everything they perceive and all of their actions are rooted in that deeply segregated mindset. They owe nothing to those who are different. Their responsibility is to themselves alone.

Yes, we have a President who gives them cover but they were there all along, generations of them back to our nation’s founding. And some of them are us. 

We are probably not the taunters on the front line of active assault and harassment. But are we silent by standers? Do we want to look at what’s beautiful and ignore the ugly? Do we want to minimize the gravity of these events instead of sitting with the ugliness? 

Do we desperately want it to be somebody’s else’s problem?

If I have any takeaway from this incident that applies on a local level it might be that we must truly work in Howard County to intentionally create and sustain integrated spaces in our community from birth onwards. And yes, that means not just schools but classes and programs within those schools. It also means hiring a more diverse faculty and staff to support this valuable work. 

Most of all: when we redistrict we must also do the work of community-building in every school to make it safe and rewarding for students of different backgrounds to learn, socialize, and grow together.

Play dates. Birthday parties. Study groups. Youth activities. In every place where children come together there is an (often ignored) opportunity for bridge building. And this is not the antiseptic, bloodless Jim Rouse utopian, White Liberal “we all get along” vision. It will be awkward at times and make people feel uncomfortable. There will be hurt feelings and possibly fear and distrust. Some will undoubtedly want to pull back.

That will be a good time to remember what the alternative looks like.

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