Elevated Voices eNewsletter: Gaslit in Queen Anne’s

I was struck this morning by an article out of Queen Anne’s County by Jonathan Pitts at The Baltimore Sun: On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a county school superintendent is under fire for supporting Black Lives Matter. The headline is a fairly good summary but for one item – the Queen Anne’s superintendent is black and those presenting the fire she is under are white. And, as with so many of these debates, those who believe Black Lives Matter is a politically charged issue that should be kept away from our education system are doing so via a Facebook group and under the mantle of patriotism – the “Kent Island Patriots”. But wait, there’s more:

In an interview with The Sun, [Gordana Schifanelli] said Kane’s comments were inappropriate because Queen Anne’s County — a mostly rural place of nearly 50,000 people, about 85% of them white — “has no significant problem with racial hatred.”

And thus the point of this analysis. Our discussions on race, desegregation, and privilege have a seemingly universal stumbling block when it comes to white people deciding whether something is racist. Even putative allies will often say “that behavior bothered me, but I think we need to be careful about calling it ‘racist’”. Why? Why is it better to call something dumb, rude, ignorant, or thoughtless when the thought missing may have to do with race. Maybe racism is actually much more excusable if it can be engaged and discussed. As many of our mommas have said “you can’t fix stupid”, but you can address racism.

This year alone, Maryland has seen redistricting battles pivot on the terms “forced busing” and “neighborhood schools” without the necessary reckoning on these fundamentally racist terms. These constructs of protest have direct lineage to desegregation fights from the 1960’s. And the fact that there may have been people of color participating in such messaging does not absolve the words of their meaning.

When it comes to self-analysis, we cannot allow the reference point to be our definition of ourselves. “I have decided not to be a racist, therefore I cannot be called a racist.” Queen Anne’s County deserved the clause Jonathan Pitts put in there – “a mostly rural place…about 85% of them white” – before allowing Ms. Schifanelli to declare that they have “no significant problems with racial hatred.” Attacking a school superintendent for saying Black Lives Matter is a significant problem with racial hatred. And Ms. Schifanelli is missing out on an important conversation.

– TC

LINKS

Housing is a Human Right (HoCo Progress Report)

Parents disappointed by closure of Howard Community College’s Children’s Learning Center (Jacques Kelly – The Baltimore Sun)

Lost Summer: How Schools Missed a Chance to Fix Remote Learning (Dana Goldstein – NYTimes)

Maryland adds 775 coronavirus cases Saturday, as positivity rate climbs above 4% again (Jessica Anderson and Nathan Ruiz – The Baltimore Sun)

This Week’s Birthdays:

  • August 10th – Sue O’Connor, PJ McDermott
  • August 11th – Nick Stewart
  • August 12th – Dave Werkmeister
  • August 13th – Alicia McLeod, Kevin Doyle, DeWitt Bauer
  • August 14th – Alice Giles, Glenn Schneider
  • August 15th – Kelly Healey
  • August 16th – Marcia White, John Handley, Scott Goldberg

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