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In Roland Park, we must work together to rid ourselves of racism | READER COMMENTARY

Roland Park Elementary/Middle School surrounding in scaffolding. File.
Roland Park Elementary/Middle School surrounding in scaffolding. File. (J.M. Giordano/City Paper)

As a part of the Roland Park neighborhood, the leaders and members of Roland Park Presbyterian Church were deeply saddened and disturbed to learn about the after school confrontation recently examined in your editorial, “Racism in Roland Park: woman uses the N-word to describe middle school students in affluent Baltimore area” (Jan. 24). We stand with many in our community who decry the use of a racial slur in that incident.

Acutely aware of the continuing legacy and ramifications of systemic racism in our neighborhood, city and country, as well as our own privilege as a predominantly white congregation, we must not only call out racist language, behaviors and ideas when we hear or see them, we must actively work to dismantle racism in our communities and in our hearts. And so we give thanks for those who witnessed the incident and stood up for the students, calling out the racist behavior and language.

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We also stand with Principal Amanda Brown, the Roland Park Elementary Middle School staff, faculty, students, their families and all who wish to make Roland Park a neighborhood in which racism and hate in all its forms are not given oxygen to breathe and a community that sees the inherent value in all its members regardless of age, race, faith tradition, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

At 11:45 a.m. this coming Sunday (Feb 2), members of the congregation will gather in front of the church in order to adorn the sidewalk with positive messages of welcome and encouragement for students and their families as they walk to school. We invite members of the community to join us in this small gesture which symbolizes our commitment to pursuing justice, practicing hospitality and engaging curious faith in our neighborhood and the world.

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Rev. Mark W. Hanna, Baltimore

The writer is pastor of Roland Park Presbyterian Church.

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