Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Pride and Shame

The best thing about yesterday for me was the story of Armon Wilson. We know about him because of the local reporting of Ana Faguy. (Baltimore Sun/Howard County Times)

Armon Wilson, 19, was first in line to vote at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. He woke up at 4:00am and walked an hour in the sprinkling rain to be in line at 5:15 am. 

Photo by Ana Faguy, Baltimore Sun/Howard County Times*

It didn’t take long for the folks at Wilde Lake High School to claim Wilson as a 2020 graduate. I don’t blame them for being proud. This young man’s dedication to cast his vote inspired a lot of us in the area. As it turns out, the last person of the day at the WLHS polling site was also a WLHS alum: D’Angelo Jackson, class of 2014.  I looked at this yesterday and felt a sense of communal pride: This is Howard County.

On the same day that the story of a civically-minded WLHS graduate made the local news, this post turned up on Instagram. (Shared by @HoCoProgressRpt.)

Posted by what looks like a relatively new account, ghs_weird_polls, it invites Glenelg High School students to make light of the horrors of the Holocaust just for fun. When called out by a fellow student the poster shows no remorse.

We can’t know for sure from this post alone that the writer is from Glenelg High School. It does seem likely that it’s a student from one of our high schools. And that is deeply troubling. If we have a high school student that thinks the Holocaust is a suitable topic for an online game, there is something missing that needs to be addressed. Immediately. Whether it is a lack of historical understanding, a lack of empathy, or both, this post shows ignorance and willful disregard for the feelings of others.
This, too, is Howard County.

I would be remiss if I did not explicitly highlight the fact that the young men who made our community proud yesterday went to Wilde Lake, the much-maligned Columbia high school that the anti-redistricting crowd loved to hate. Our Holocaust joker? Well, it’s hard to say, but: probably not Wilde Lake.

When I look at these two radically different local stories, I’m convinced that, as much as we ought to lift up the stories of the Wilde Lake students, we also need to sit with and examine the truth that Howard County also produces students like ghs_weird_polls. What are we going to do about that? How can we, as a community, do better?

We are eager to share in the community pride. It’s harder to take responsibility for community shame.

*For more on the day’s voting, you can check out Ms. Faguy’s article, written with Jacob Calvin Meyer.


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