Saturday, May 21, 2022

Call it by its Name


Sometimes good people do bad things

Sometimes kind people do unkind things.

Sometimes smart people do…things that defy explanation.

I am referring to the decision to use a property which is being called “Historic Oakdale” as the site of this year’s Decorator Show House.You may recall I wrote about this house when it came on the market. 

It’s a prison. A private jail. A forced labor camp. Here is where generations of human beings were held against their will. It doesn’t matter how carefully it is preserved or how beautifully it’s decorated. It’s a living monument that our country was founded on the worst kind of injustice. See how pretty it is…the house of horrors. “Honoring History”, Village Green/Town² 12/11/21

I honestly don’t know what should be done with places like this but I do know they should not be celebrated nor used to generate funds. I am stunned that the horrific foundation of all this wealth and grandeur was not a dealbreaker for those who chose to make Oakdale a showcase home.

Let that sink in. It is 2022 and slavery was not a dealbreaker. Having a decorator’s showcase at Oakdale is asking the community to look right at slavery, and then…look away.

On May 12th County Executive Calvin Ball signed an executive order creating a Public Facilities and Spaces Report Evaluation and Action Commission.

With the Public Spaces Commission report, we now can contextualize the many namesakes of our buildings, parks, and other county-owned spaces. We need to face our history, learn from it, and move forward by ensuring the namesakes of our facilities and spaces reflect today’s values. I’m grateful to the many Commission members who are tackling this difficult issue and look forward to its recommendations.  Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive

Oakdale is not a county-owned space. Nonetheless I think its name should reflect what it really is. I suggest “Oakdale Prison Camp”, “Oakdale Plantation of the Enslaved”, or “Oakdale Labor and Death Camp”. Put the ugliness right on its face where it belongs rather than hiding it behind exquisitely decorated rooms and fancy events.

Maybe, if the name put its true story right out there for everyone to see, those good, kind, smart people would have thought twice about putting it in the local spotlight.

Here’s a suggestion. Tickets to this year’s show house are 30 dollars. Take that money and donate it to Howard County Lynching Truth and Reconciliation, a local initiative that is researching and sharing historical truth about our county.

Here’s where to donate:

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