In Roland Park, we need to bring people together. It’s worked before. | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Feb 03, 2020 | 4:54 PM
I read recently with interest that Benjamin Franklin once disparaged “stupid” German immigrants and said their “swarthy” complexions were an affront to the white people who had settled America. It hit home. My ancestor, the botanist Maximilian Heuisler, came to Baltimore in 1780 to open the first nursery in Colonial Maryland.
Which prompts me to then mention a recent Sun editorial concerning an alleged incident, date unknown, in Roland Park between some rambunctious young public school students and alleged racial slurs by visitors to, or residents of, the community; all of which led to your newspaper’s branding the neighborhood racist (“Racism in Roland Park: woman uses the N-word to describe middle school students in affluent Baltimore area,” Jan. 24). Later, folks writing in your paper included anti-Semitism. The editorial ignited a firestorm on social media and generated followup commentaries. In my assessment, no completely accurate eyewitness account of the incident exists.
The furor threw me because I have been a resident of Roland Park since 1947, and watched a community-based elementary public school transmogrify to a multi-racial and superb elementary-middle school with significant support from a community. But instead of further dwelling on what truly happened between the community and the students, I am suggesting a remedy based on past Baltimore experience. Basically, get over it, build on it and move on.
There is precedence.
In 1968, riots had decimated Baltimore — six dead, thousands arrested, 1,200 fires set — and the city was an emotional tinderbox. In the summer of 1970, the Baltimore City Fair was created to move beyond the riots and put disparate city neighborhoods and groups in contact. For one weekend, 300,000 folks from all over Baltimore came downtown to Charles Center and hang out together. It was a totally peaceful love in. It worked. And I was lucky enough to be involved.
So if there is a problem in Roland Park, at the school, or in the community, or both, all factions must come together in a planned and positive manner. Otherwise, we will just perpetuate hearsay and innuendo of the social media snakepit. Or, by your reporting, notions of “white folks cutting in front of black patrons at Johnny’s restaurant.”