Trump’s tweets about Cummings, Baltimore

Here’s a message for those who say that local politicians should stay in their own lane and should have nothing to say about national issues:

Have you figured out that you can be going along, minding your own business, and national politics can just up and punch you in the nose?

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A good example seems to be July 27. Tweets by a sitting president targeting a duly elected representative and his district polluted both the national and local conversation.

I’ve seen plenty of well-meaning people pushing back by pointing out that Elijah Cummings’ district includes Columbia and Howard County. They feel his comments show President Donald Trump’s ignorance. They want people to know they love their home. It’s not dirty or “infested.”

I respectfully counter that this misses the mark. The ugly words we are all talking about are based on a simple assumption: that a black man could only be representing an urban district, and that an urban district is full of black and brown people and is, by default, dirty, poor, crime-infested and violent. This is racism with a fine-pointed laser beam of hatred.

It was not meant for us.

I’ve also seen comments accusing Mr. Cummings of living in an affluent section of Howard County. The assumption is that he should be living in his “real district.” You know, the poor, black part. Their responses make it clear that Trump knows exactly who he is speaking for: a racist base who want to see people of color removed from positions of power or simply marginalized by slurs like the ones spewed forth last weekend.

The truth of the matter is this: Mr. Cummings is no more responsible for the state of West Baltimore than he is the affluence of Howard County. It is his job to represent them. He did not create them. And both the poverty of West Baltimore and the wealth of Howard County exist because of the decisions of white people, generations and generations of them.

This is about an attempt to delegitimize a black congressman by suggesting that his black and brown constituents are less than human because of issues they had no hand in causing.

White people created distinctions that withheld wealth, power and equal rights from some, while consolidating it for themselves. And now a white man seeks to shame a black man who dares to be his equal.

And that’s what the president’s tweets are all about, Howard County. They’re not about us.

Julia A. McCready

Columbia

Healthy vending choices finally arriving in Howard

The Baltimore Sun is right to question why it took Howard County so long to include healthy food in its county vending machines (July 25).

In Howard County, we pride ourselves on being trailblazers when it comes to finding ways to ensure our residents can live longer, healthier lives. This was true in 2015 when current County Executive Calvin Ball — then a Howard County Council member — championed legislation requiring 75% of the snacks and drinks in vending machines on county property meet health standards.

The African American Community Roundtable, the Horizon Foundation and dozens of other groups advocated for this law because we believe in making the healthy choice the easy choice. We believe the community — including our government — should create an environment that encourages health.

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Sadly, politics got in the way and caused delays, but now we celebrate that the county will soon be getting healthy vending choices.

On the bright side, since the original Howard County legislation passed, six other jurisdictions in Maryland instituted similar changes — including Baltimore city, and Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties.

Despite Howard County being one of the nation’s wealthiest and most-educated counties, we still face serious health challenges including significant racial health disparities. Black and brown residents of the county suffer from disproportionately higher rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes than white residents. Our organization will continue working to change the policies and systems that stand in the way of good health for all our residents. We just hope that, in the future, the easy choices won’t take as long to be realized.

Larry Walker

African American Community Roundtable

Reach out and meet those in your community

I feel the need to respond to Thomas Crawford’s ugly, angry tirade (July 18), for this type of divisive language cannot be left unchallenged. Mr. Crawford’s position is that the people coming to America’s southern border are ruthless invaders with evil intent. He feels enslaved and attacked.

My first impulse is to ridicule Mr. Crawford’s absurd scenarios and statistics (please don’t tell us where you get your information) and meet his anger with anger, but that doesn’t help bring us together as a nation. Instead, I feel sorry for the people who subscribe to this sad, fearful vision. I wonder if they really believe the hateful things that they say or, like our president, are they merely seeking to balkanize our country for his own selfish purpose?

Mr. Crawford questions the concept that America is a nation of immigrants. When did your family come to America, Mr. Crawford? Where did they emigrate from? Were they met with open arms or did the immigrants who arrived in America before them hurl hateful insults at them?

Mr. Crawford says that “nothing about this is compassionate” and I agree. There is nothing compassionate in this intolerable rhetoric, only hatred. No, Mr. Crawford, genuine compassion is not only when we voluntarily invite people to our homes; genuine compassion is when we choose to open our arms to the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free that arrive at our doors.

My goal is not to ridicule Mr. Crawford and the people who agree with him. I applaud their love of country and defend their right of free speech. Our nation is facing a serious challenge, and we must work together to find solutions that protect all of our people and uphold our laws.

My challenge to you is to reach out in your community and meet the people that you are so eager to demonize. Perhaps you will find that they are not evil invaders, but good, spiritual families just like yours.

Mitch Vitullo

Columbia

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