Friday, October 23, 2020



Apparently there was some sort of protest at Central Office out on Route 108 yesterday. It seems that some folks are all fired up about the how the school system is handling education during the pandemic. 

I took a gander at some of the photos taken at the event. They’re not my photos, so I won’t share them here. Some observations: mask use inconsistent, physical distancing inconsistent. It’s not surprising that we’re having trouble lowering the spread of the coronavirus when I see behavior like this. 

But here is what jumps out from these photographs: whiteness. According to the HCPSS website, our student population breaks down as follows:

Race/Ethnicity FY19

  • Asian – 22.7%
  • Black/African American – 24.2%
  • Hispanic/Latino – 12.0%
  • White – 34.5%
  • Other – less than or equal to 5.0%
  • Two or more races – 6.3%

Out on Route 108, carrying signs and displaying empty lawn chairs, it was white, 100 %. Well, to be completely accurate, I didn’t see any Asian protesters but they very well might have been in attendance, though not in large numbers. What I didn’t see were Black and Latinx participants. At all.

Black and Latinx parents are struggling every bit as much, if not more, during the pandemic. They experience the same frustrations with distance learning. But they were not out there protesting to reopen the schools. I suspect it’s because they are keenly aware of how their families are consistently more at risk for exposure and illness. They are witnessing more illness and death within their immediate communities. 

Merely to play a numbers game here, let’s consider that White children make up 34.5 per cent of the student population. Black and Latinx children? 36.2 %. 

But the loud voices in front of Central Office are perfectly content to believe that their 34.5 per cent is THE voice of the Howard County Schools. For heaven’s sake, look around. People are missing, voices are missing. No matter how loud you are, you can’t erase the truth.

Some of these parents might tell you that they’re protesting on behalf of those “poor, disadvantaged children who are at the most at risk.” (Translation: Black and Brown students.) Really? Why aren’t members of those communities protesting with you? Why aren’t they among your leaders, your speakers?

Members of Black and Latinx communities are well acquainted with protest and activism. If they aren’t there? There’s a reason.

These are surely difficult times. No one denies that. But I would suggest that those who believe that their voice is the only voice when it comes to making important decisions are reinforcing unhealthy and destructive patterns of civic behavior.

Right now, the kind of civic behavior we need in Howard County involves mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand-washing, and working together to get through life’s current challenges. Kindness would help, too.

Oh, and vote. That’s a civic behavior I hope we all can agree on.

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