Tuesday, June 2, 2020

More Than A Hashtag

Something to ponder today:

If we protest against police brutality and the systemic racism that pervades the justice system and our country as a whole, what next? Posting all of the very best statements on Facebook is not enough. Sharing those no-punches-pulled, insightful articles is not enough. Changing your profile picture is not enough. Using #BlackLivesMatter isn’t enough.

It is all nothing more than show if we don’t make the connection that we (as white people) participate in a system that benefits us and haven’t really done much to change that. To be sure, we didn’t “ask” for it, but we cash in the rewards daily. Real change happens when we’re willing to turn the tables on those benefits because we see that they haven’t been granted to everyone.

One of the ways to do that is to work for equity in our school system. In one way or another, local schools touch almost everyone in our county. They can either perpetuate the status quo, or work to create something better. But that is where I’ve seen people suddenly get squeamish. Typically “liberal” folks find a million reasons to reject change.

It reminds me of the oft-quoted prayer of Saint Augustine, “Lord, let me be chaste, but not yet.”

It is bad enough that some in our county have striven to make “equity” a dirty word. They tar and feather candidates with the equity label as though it were synonymous with grift or lawlessness. But are we any better if we carefully choose board of education candidates whose position on equity doesn’t make us too uncomfortable?

If, deep down, the word “equity” makes us think we might lose something, that is the biggest evidence we have that we already know we are benefiting from something that others do not have.

Today is Election Day in Maryland. If you haven’t voted already, today is your last chance. Either drop your ballot in the mail or go to one of Howard County’s public polling places. Every one of the choices on the ballot is important but the Board of Education race is a huge opportunity for you to “put your money where your mouth is” if you truly believe that Black Lives Matter.

Hashtags aren’t just for protest days. This one works for Election Day, too, and every day that it takes to bring the truth of it into existence. Don’t put those words in your mouth if you aren’t willing to honor them with your vote.

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