A friend of mine posted the following the other day:
PSA: if you need to preface the thing you're about to say with, "I'm not a racist, but..."- don't. There's a reason you feel the need to qualify your remark, and that reason is the thing you'll be wanting to examine. Carefully. Honestly. We all need to be doing this work, it is the work of our time.
I think she’s right. And there are plenty of future blog posts in that statement alone. I do believe it is the work of our time.
I’m going to take the liberty of riffing on that theme to look at a similar turn of phrase, one that appears to be quite popular in Howard County:
I do support affordable housing, but...
A current example: Robinson Overlook. It’s causing a big stir on the Internet right now.
I have come to the conclusion that, for some, the line of reasoning about new housing goes like this:
These dreadful, expensive McMansions aren’t affordable to anyone. We really need more affordable housing.
When affordable housing is proposed:
I do support affordable housing, but...not here. Or not that, or not now.
As Lewis Carroll says in Alice in Wonderland, “the rule is: jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today.” In Howard County, today is never the right day for affordable housing.
If we do support affordable housing, then our words should be different. Essentially:
I do support affordable housing, and...
And what? Well, how about:
- and I’m going to work for improved public transportation
- and I’m going to make sure our schools are ready to receive new students
- and I’m going to advocate for effective affordable housing throughout the county
Spare me all the reasons you have for opposing this or that affordable housing project. Oppose what you like.
Just please, please, please stop saying you support affordable housing unless your actions show that you really do.
I’ll close with this statement from Elevate Maryland co-host Tom Coale:
There’s a public meeting of the Howard County Council tomorrow at 2 pm. They will be discussing Robinson Overlook. If it is filled with people opposing affordable housing, it will be a sad day for #HoCoMD. It can’t always be “I support affordable housing, but not here”.