Wednesday, September 22, 2021

An Unwarranted Attack

Last Friday night the match-up was between two unlikely parties: football fans from one high school and the marching band of another. 

What the marching band did: assemble to play their half-time show.

What the football fans did: target them with booing, throwing trash, shouting the F-word, the N-word, using the middle finger hand gesture.

Before you ask: yes, there is video tape. I also happen to know multiple eye-witnesses to this event.

Does it matter who these students were, where they were from? Of course it does. But today I want to focus on the actions themselves.

Shouting obscenities and making obscene gestures is rude and poor sportsmanship.

Throwing trash at fellow students is an act of violence, however small you may think that is.

Shouting racist epithets is what reveals the greater purpose. It is what draws all these actions together.

We show you profound disrespect, we curse you, we mock you, we throw trash at you, because you are Black.

What did the marching band do to deserve this? What does anyone ever do to deserve this?

Nothing. Racism is an unwarranted attack. Its animus has no basis in fact. Its victims have done nothing to provoke it.

Racism and racist acts in the Howard County Schools harm everyone, but most especially the targets. They actively degrade the educational experience of our Black and Brown students. They create an unsafe environment for learning.

No one who has anything to do with our schools can ignore it.

To be honest, I’m still looking for a statement from the Superintendent calling this out, condemning the racist actions and expressing support for the students in the marching band. True, if he says something, he may be criticized. There may be negative pushback. But if the school system doesn’t publicly address this incident the message to students and our community will be far louder: addressing racism is uncomfortable. Is easier to give it a free pass than wade in to the struggle.

Silence in the face of racism is consent. I absolutely do not give my consent to racist actions in our school communities. 

A reminder: racism is divisive. Talking about racism isn’t. Sweeping it under the carpet will never be a solution.

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