Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Denial in HoCo

A Facebook announcement of a day of prayer in Howard County to remember George Floyd drew numerous responses that vilified Mr. Floyd, or the County Executive, or claimed there was no such thing as racism in Howard County. Along with racist dog whistles about Baltimore City, the entire thread was unwitting proof of how much racism exists here.

The same day I read on NextDoor the account of a resident Sewells Orchard who had received a full-page, typed letter complaining about her children. She had since found out the same letter had been sent to a few other Black parents in the neighborhood. It contained phrases such as “watching the demographics of our neighborhood change” as well as complaints that the behavior of her children contributed to a “ghetto or barrio atmosphere” in the neighborhood. Naturally the complainant did not sign their name.

No racism, eh?

It’s hard to believe that Howard County’s racism deniers can remain so adamant while examples to the contrary are popping up almost daily. But their commitment to denial is strong.

On the other hand, young people have come to the forefront in the local movement to address racism. The organizers of the HoCoforJustice March and Vigil come to mind. The Elevate Maryland podcast featured Howard County youth (including two of the organizers) in a recent episode

A graduate of the Howard County Schools has created a petition to the school system calling for a more concerted effort to address racism at school. You can find it here:

From what I have seen, the deadline for response has been extended to June 12th. There are essentially two components to the petition. One is soliciting experiences of racism from current and former students. The other is asking communty members to sign on to supporting anti-racist measures throughout the system. So, even if you are not a student, you can participate.

I’ve heard rumblings that funds for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is at risk right now in the budget process. If any of my readers knows more about this, please fill me in. I can’t think of a worse time to be reducing funding to fight racism. If we aren’t fully committed to creating a safe environment for all learners, how can we say our schools are for all children? 

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