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Using racial epithet was wrong but so was behavior of Roland Park youngsters | READER COMMENTARY

Sophia Renzi, 14, turns into a protected section of the Roland Avenue bike lane while riding to Roland Park Middle School. File.

The Baltimore Sun’s recent editorial regarding racism in Roland Park was a prime example of how distorted reactions to behaviors have become and the reason negative behaviors in youth grow (“Racism in Roland Park: woman uses the N-word to describe middle school students in affluent Baltimore area,” Jan. 24). Several middle school boys who were “messing around while crossing the street” were confronted by a white woman who yelled at them for their behavior. They yelled back and, according to some, used some swear words. Another white woman on the sidewalk got involved and called the boys the N-word. The police were called by the first woman who felt scared to walk to her car.

Yes, it is wrong to use the N-word, as you spent half your editorial pointing out. Noticeably missing, however, was concern as to the behavior of these young men. (In fairness you did dedicate one sentence to “No one’s trying to excuse the bad behavior of the boys.” It was followed, however, by: “But that’s not the issue”). Do these boys believe it is all right to cause a scene, yell and curse in a residential community in the middle of the day? Have they so little respect for adults that when confronted about their behavior by one they would continue to make a scene and curse rather than understand they were behaving inappropriately? Did anyone, include The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board, consider that perhaps the woman was trying to instruct them in acceptable public behavior and protect them from becoming injured or causing an accident while crossing a street?

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Consistency and fairness are needed. Using the N-word is ugly, hurtful and inappropriate. Middle-school boys causing a scene by being disruptive, yelling and cursing on a residential street in the middle of the day also is disrespectful and inappropriate and, with the numerous incidents that have been occurring throughout the city by young men, could be viewed as threatening. It may be useful for you to have considered that it was not prejudice or hatred that caused the use of the N-word, but anger and frustration at inappropriate, disrespectful behavior on a public street by boys who should understand how to behave decently in public.

Charlotte Eliopoulos, Glen Arm

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