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Erase the TapesMany of us who have...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Erase the Tapes

Many of us who have worked so long in Baltimore City's racially integrating neighborhoods are intrigued by Baltimore County's current efforts to understand and respond to the challenges of its own older communities, especially those also experiencing racial integration.

After struggling for almost 30 years with these very complicated issues, I offer two major suggestions to our good friends and neighbors in Baltimore County.

First, you must "erase the tapes" of the 1960s that still play in the minds particularly of your elderly residents and also handed down to their children and grandchildren.

Those tapes say that neighborhoods that integrate will undergo physical deterioration and suffer a decline in property values. The 1970s and 1980s debunked that myth; consider Northwood, Lochearn and Randallstown.

But many, perhaps most, Marylanders still believe it. Whether or not we as a society can achieve true racial integration will be the challenge of the 21st century, but the era of neighborhood deterioration blamed on racial change is gone. Let us turn off the tapes and rejoice.

Second, what has worked to keep healthy the neighborhoods in Baltimore City's northeast quadrant, with which I am most familiar, were the small things that never made the headlines: housing inspectors who worked closely with neighborhood associations, banks and savings and loans that developed creative mortgage instruments to save homeownership, small grants and deferred loans to elderly homeowners to make repairs they could not afford and block parties where residents old and new came together and discovered how much they had in common.

Send your planners into the Northwoods and the Belair-Edisons to talk with our residents and community leaders. Much knowledge and wisdom have been learned and gained these past 30 years.

In the 21st century, I have no doubt that we will achieve true racial integration, but we must continue to work at it and remember with gratitude those who long ago "erased the tapes" of the past and dreamed of a future that is almost here.

Vincent P. Quayle

Baltimore

The writer is the director of the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center.

Joys of Adoption

We are very happy for Patrick Ercolano's special addition to his family (June 10 column on adoption). We wish the new family well and hope their lives are joyous.

We would like to point out that should there be readers who may be considering adoption who cannot afford to explore foreign options, there are children in Baltimore available for adoption.

We recently held an indoor carnival at the Clarence "Du" Burns Soccer Arena.

This annual event brought together our beautiful children who have a plan for adoption with prospective adoptive parents.

The bright faces of our children were a joy to see as they played games, ate cotton candy and watched a clown and a magician perform. The faces of the prospective parents were also joyful as they met the children and played games with them.

Adoption is a beautiful way to "build" a new family. Children are waiting for you to open your hearts and your homes and welcome them home.

L Please call us at 361-5509 to explore your adoption options.

Yvonne Gillchrist

Baltimore

The writer is the acting director of the Baltimore Department of Social Services.

Narrow-Minded

I was very angered by the June 10 article on the Rev. John K. Mount, the Episcopal priest who was stripped of his title because he blessed the union of two gay men.

I grew up in the Episcopal Church but now must wonder if I want to raise my own children in a church which encourages narrow-mindedness.

Love is a scarce commodity in this world. Broken families abound, hate crimes are on the rise and homicide rates have soared.

Our children are growing up unable even to value each other's lives, let alone to trust or feel compassion for other people.

It is almost against all odds that anyone still forms a loving, lifelong bond with another person.

While we decry this violent, "dehumanized" society, many of our religious leaders perpetrate intolerance, unable to see the connection between their own self-righteousness and their failure to communicate to more people the basic command of loving one's neighbor.

Any two people who can commit to love and respect each other should be applauded and, yes, formally blessed if that is their choice.

What sex they are, or what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom, is trivial compared to their capacity to love.

Carrie Armstrong Montague

Owings Mills

Facts about the Banneker Scholarships

Factually your May 23 articles and editorial on the Supreme Court action scuttling the Benjamin Banneker Scholarships were correct.

However, you left out a lot that is important to the understanding and the conclusions you draw. These omissions leave your conclusions off base. (I headed the minority undergraduate recruitment program from 1973 to 1979 and helped to found the Benjamin Banneker Scholarship.)

Conspicuously missing from the university's argument in its defense before the courts was the fact that institutional racism has continued to permeate the university, affecting both recruitment and retention up to this day, as documented by black students and faculty alike.

There could have been provisions for Hispanic-based scholarships. In fact, the Banneker scholarships did not originally exclude other minorities.

Most strikingly, the university did away with the undergraduate minority recruitment office in 1979, though the office had met with some success, including helping to found the Banneker scholarships.

The university chancellor's minority commission recommended that the office remain. It was dismantled without a peep of protest from the federal government or the courts, despite its being the main tool to recruit black and minority undergraduates.

Several years later, the university was allowed by federal officials to decrease its undergraduate minority goals.

The Banneker program was specifically aimed at students heavily recruited by elite universities -- a smaller population out of the larger population of recruitable black students.

It was never intended to be the main tool for recruiting blacks. And only begrudgingly did the university initially support the Banneker scholarships.

During my tenure as administrator and president of the black faculty and staff, supported by and working with protesting students, we had demanded that the university address its institutional racism that prevented significant increases in minority enrollment, including: low black faculty and staff employment, biased faculty who believed blacks were inferior and could do no better than C work and a hostile campus environment insensitive to the needs of black and minority students, especially working-class black students.

These mostly unaddressed issues helped to push minority students off the campus, especially those whose past academic preparation and psyche needed a reinforcing environment to excel. (Historically black colleges have shown over and over again what an asset this can be in helping students to excel.)

All contributed heavily to the continuing legacy of the university, saying to many black students both enrolled and those being recruited, "You are not welcome."

The federal government under the Republicans and Democrats is just as culpable as the university for its failure to hold the university to it modest affirmative action plan over these last 22 years.

And the courts, those impartial jurists that they are, have continued to cave in to the rightward swing of the affirmative action pendulum since the civil rights movement, making quotas and preferential treatment dirty words. The 1978 Bakke case you cited struck a blow against affirmative action, not for it.

I would rephrase your editorial's question, "So where does UMCP go from here?" to "Where do those who want to fight for affirmative action go from here?"

The first motivation to increase minority enrollment on these campuses was born out of the civil and black rights struggles of the 1960s and early 1970s. It's time again.

We should make demands: to enforce quotas to guarantee that blacks and other victims of discrimination be given preferences to admissions, scholarships and other sources of financial aid; to enforce quotas to ensure that representative numbers of black and minority faculty are hired, and to maintain historically black institutions and provide them with adequate resources.

Kenneth O. Morgan

Baltimore

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