I had the pleasure of welcoming back a customer to the library that I haven’t seen for years because this black gentleman moved away for other opportunities. He was surprised that I remembered him even though he remembered me as a HCLS Instructor. I said to him that I remembered his kind eyes. Politely and without bitterness, he explained how he had moved around to Florida, Texas, and New York during the time he was away. I found it heartwarming to have him return and offered him hope through new CareApp services that he might wish to take advantage of if interested.
Howard County recently implemented a new redistricting plan where children from lower income neighborhoods would be bused to schools in higher income neighborhoods (and vice versa). Here are a few of the comments from Howard County residents that resulted:
“Blacks destroy school systems and schools,” read one letter to county officials about the busing plan. “Black families (as a core group) don’t value education like other cultural groups,” read another. “The Black Community needs to take responsibility for the behavior of its people,” a third declared, “or the white man will take them back to place where they don’t want to go.”
Clearly, the mindsets of some Howard County residents needs to change.
At work, we have recently implement a COVID vaccine mandate for the team with medical and religious exemptions. This has sparked several conversations with team members, but the most impactful were those with team members of color and their expressed historical and systemic distrust of the medical community. This distrust is preventing them from feeling safe in receiving the vaccine.
I was meeting someone for first time and asking about her work in the community. A long time resident came up and started talking about how he knew her. He said that she was one of the only Hispanic leaders in Columbia and she was such an asset. She said graciously I am not one of few, I am one of many. He said we need more of you, but there just aren’t any here. It seemed both she and I reacted at same time. I said, no, that’s actually not accurate. Our Hispanic community is sizable and active here, the real question we should discuss is how to better engage and are leadership opportunities truly available widely and accessible to beyond the small group that is always seen. He responded with that wasn’t what I meant, my point is she is great. And I responded, but again, the discussion is how do we ensure more/better opportunity. He was like, I think she’s great, so great to see you both, and left. It does not seem people are willing to have the ACTUAL conversation here about HOW to change … because I’m not sure that vocal minority of long-time leaders actually want change. Well, I do.
I witnessed a White neighbor being friendly and kind to Black neighbor, but when that White neighbor interacted with me, they said things about the Black neighbor that were negative. This made me sad, because my White neighbor knows how they should be acting and thinking, but they aren’t doing so with feeling. I was also upset that the neighbor assumed that I felt the same way they did. I made clear I did not.
A coworker was discussing how the value of their home would likely go down because of the projected redistricting of schools. The new schools their home was districted to were deemed of less value because of the demographics of students and families going there. They did not have any students in school and were not concerned about the reasons the redistricting was happening (to increase equity of the community) but were only concerned about potential slight loss in home value that might result.
Our school staff were assigned to read The Little Book of Restorative Justice in Education last year. Unfortunately, there were no students physically in school, so there were no opportunities to practice the lessons. There has been no follow-up this year. This lack of follow-up feels all too familiar.
Our School Improvement Plan has African American Students as the focus group for Improving School Quality. “Relationship building” is the focus action. But without instruction to staff, there is no understanding of the “how” to do this. This “saying the right thing” but not following with action feels familiar.
So I feel hope, but want to learn how to help push these ideas into action.
I have been in Howard County for about a year. My family and I moved from VA. When we came house hunting, we loved our neighborhood because it was vey cosmopolitan. I understand that not all neighborhoods in HC are like this. However, the equity and racial justice training facilitated by HCLS gives me hope about race relations.
Experiencing Covid vaccinations disparities. within Howard County the access to vaccine was extremely limited for some members of the African American community. Limited access to technology and transportation. Fortunately members of health community identified the need and implemented programs to address the disparities. Mobile vaccine clinic to areas that needed the resources.
African American pt’s being turned away from the emergency room when presenting with Covid symptoms.
Recently, a colleague informed me about antisemitic slurs she was told by another co-worker.
In June, the Howard County Police Department investigated racist signs that were seen in Ellicott City. Stickers with racist messages were attached to guardrails and poles on Centennial Lane between Glastonbury Road and Centennial Lane Elementary School.
In March, I read a story about a marquee sign with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” outside Glenwood Middle School was vandalized late last week, the Howard County Public School System announced Monday. The word “Black” in the phrase was covered with spray paint to remove the word’s appearance on the sign, according to a news release from the school system. The district learned of the vandalism Saturday and then notified the Howard County Police Department.