A good many of us in Columbia/HoCo were already proud of our local youth who organized the HoCo for Justice event in Downtown Columbia. Yesterday’s shoutout by President Barack Obama took that pride and spun it into a whole new dimension. Even actor Edward Norton (grandson of Columbia founder Jim Rouse) wanted Obama to know about his Columbia connection.
Meanwhile, journalists from the Baltimore Sun were enjoying their own bit of excitement as they (rightly) noted that it was Reporter Ana Faguy’s piece on the youth organizers that Obama chose to elevate. Journalists get excited, too.
Over at the Board of Education students shared a depressingly large body of personal accounts describing racism in the Howard County Schools. A discussion (not the first, I might add) began online as to whether we should rename schools named after slave plantations. It’s not surprising that plenty of folks don’t know the history behind those names or understand how painful the honoring of those names is to Black families and students. After all, how much of this history do we teach?
Speaking of schools named after slave plantations, Mount Hebron was in the news this week as a graduate of the school and Ellicott City native very publicly withdrewfrom NASCAR racing after their announcement that the Confederate flag would no longer be permitted at their events. It is safe to say that this has done nothing good for the reputation of Ellicott City. For that matter, it has done nothing to improve the reputation of the driver, as his announcement only served to highlight the fact that, after thirty-two races, he had never managed to win any.
In an odd twist of fate, the Ellicott City eggplant sculpture, by artist Jan Kirsh, got a positive shout out on social media yesterday. As statues of notorious racists and monuments to racist ideals are coming down all over the country, some have been asking, “Are there any good statues?” One submission:
While we’re on the topic of statues, I propose everyone just copies Ellicott City, MD and gets a statue of an eggplant. Our town has had TWO natural disaster-style floods and yet..... it still stands.
I’d say Ellicott City is ahead of the game when it comes to monuments since the Confederate monument was removed in 2017. Having a local eggplant isn’t only quirky and fun, it’s decidedly unproblematic. If you want your own eggplant you can purchase a smaller one at the artist's website for around eight hundred dollars.
If you have that much money to spend it might be better put to use buying produce from local farms and donating to Columbia Community Care. (Maybe even a few eggplants.) Or perhaps eight hundred dollars worth of books that would validate and lift up Black students in Howard County.
Who knows? The Ellicott City Eggplant could be come an unlikely anti-racist symbol in a county that is struggling to acknowledge its racist roots.