The following letter was provided by Jansen Robinson, Chair of the Edgewood Community Council:
Racism is defined as the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another”.
Discrimination is a sociological term that refers to treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group that is taken in consideration based on class or category.
Several years ago-and prior to any BRAC revelations, the issue on the table was over-crowded high schools north of I- 95. However the high schools south of I-95 had excess capacity. Also it was revealed that at that time total school enrollment had increased slightly. But not enough to warrant a new school.
There were discussions regarding redistricting to make use of existing resources/space in the county to reduce overcrowded in high schools north of I-95. So some children north of I-95 would be attending schools south of I-95.
Many (but not all) of the parents of children north of I-95 were adamantly opposed to having their children redistricted to schools south of I-95. Publicly they cited “housing values” south of I-95 as the reason for not wanting their children to attend schools south of I-95. And as a result of the protests from these parents Patterson Mill Middle/High was built. A reasonable person might ask “What does the value of the homes south of I-95 have to do with filling empty seats in those schools? Could a reasonable person reach the conclusion that the racial make-up of the schools south of I-95 was the reason for their objections and not home values?
It appears that the taxpayers of Harford County paid to build a new school simply to appease the parents of children attending schools north of I-95. And, and at a time when we had more than enough school capacity in the Harford County schools. If this is true is it Racism or Discrimination? And, I do not recall any protests from the Tax Rebellion Crowd then- But why not?
School officials, some political officials and some members of the tax rebellion crowd will attempt to defend the use of taxpayer’s money by using BRAC as a reason to build this new school. But remember this was before BRAC was even on an issue. No one (myself included) said one word about this blatant use of taxpayers’ dollars to fund what appears to be a decision based upon something other than need.
Fast forward to this latest issue regarding President Obama’s speech. And remember the information that was presented by the school system (not the media).
First, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction stated that the school would not air the speech live-but that the speech would be reviewed for instructional content, and then presented to children at a later date.
Then the school leadership said that the reason for not airing the speech live was due to the limited bandwidth. This was followed by an elaborate presentation by the school system to try and justify their actions, and to demonstrate how well their original plan actually worked. Recent information received from a number of sources reveals that Harford County schools were permitted to watch the inauguration-live. There were no bandwidth issues then. If this revelation is correct-then there appears to be a pattern taking shape.
Could a reasonable person ask that if the HCPS’s bandwidth was the real reason for not airing the speech live-then why not say so from the outset? Would a reasonable person deny that race appears to be the primary factor in the above cited issues? I believe Dr. Wheeler to be a reasonable person. He has intimate knowledge of these and other race-related incidents that have occurred in this county that have not received public attention. And remember, how he wrestled with himself over the use of the word. So give Dr. Wheeler a break. Because a reasonable person could have reached the same conclusion as Dr. Wheeler’s. The difference is that Dr. Wheeler was bold enough not continue to hide his head in the sand.
The question now is where do we go from here and more importantly how can we get there together? That is why I believe there is a need for a County-Wide discussion about Race Relations (which some have already rejected). Why-because scripture tell us that a house divided against it self will fall. And because we all loose when good people stand by and let evil persist. Harford County has been blessed with an opportunity that many communities only wish for-that is BRAC.
If we continue to let our skin color us- then we reduce our opportunities to take full advantage of what BRAC could bring to all of our communities. We must not let those with alternative motives prevent this community from moving forward.
Our President has suggested that we talk with those with whom we have differences. The alternative is to bury our heads in the sand (e.g. gangs) and pretend that our differences will go somehow just go away-that is until the next time something happens.
I have suggested that the Human Relations Commission convene a planning meeting so that we may start this conversation to determine how we move forward in spite of any of our perceived differences. And, I would invite others who are sickened by what we do and say to and about one another to join me in saying that enough is enough. Who knows, we might begin to realize that we have far more commonalities than differences.
Jansen Robinson, Chair
Edgewood Community Council