Many of us see Howard County as a place of inclusion, diversity and community; a place for people to find a home amid new friends, neighbors and responsive legislators. Despite this, like any growing community of people with diverse perspectives and history, we continue to see patterns of implicit and explicit biases that plague public life and services today.
Back in September, I wrote to The Sun about the need for equity-based policy making, and the need to include students and young voices in the preliminary stages of the process (”Howard County has more work to do on school equity,” Sept. 30, 2020). With eight months under their belts, the Howard County Council and Racial Equity Task Force have accomplished this goal.
Since CR142 passed in October 2020, creating the task force, members have worked tirelessly to determine where the greatest disparities lie in Howard County and what appropriate solutions can be implemented. Within the six task force subgroups, members have worked to tackle subjects including improving local public health infrastructure, recruiting minority educators, establishing transparency within the police force and expanding civic engagement opportunities.
Throughout this process, I had the pleasure of working closely with the student members of the task force, who demonstrated the power of student voice in the legislative process. Each one of these students became a vocal advocate within their subgroup without buckling in the face of intimidation from being the youngest person in the room. I am incredibly excited to see these students elevate their voices as leaders of the next generation.
Most importantly, accountability for implementation of the task force recommendations is imperative if we want to see concrete, attainable progress. As a community, we must ensure that our legislators vote in support of equity-based legislation that will provide much-needed protections to minorities and other marginalized groups now and for future generations.
Riley Macon, Laurel
The writer is a 2021 graduate of Reservoir High School and founder of HoCo Students for Equity.
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