I woke up tired. Rushing quickly to prepare myself for my 9:30 class, when I decided to check the news (which I usually do) before I left out. But something struck me – something breathtaking, something jaw-dropping, something unbelievable, yet all too steadily commonplace.
But, this couldn’t happen in my town, could it? You know where the black population is a growing, but minuscule mass? Where the population is predominantly white and the people predominantly racist? Where the difference between the poor and wealthy is gentrified by such grueling dividing lines that rich children can go to a separate elementary school for the first 5 years of their life in order to be unaware of the nature of the contrasting lifestyles, beliefs, and thoughts of the poor? Not Cecil County right? I continued to beg for a lie, hoping there was some mistake among the lines of the headliner, hoping that somehow the Cecil Whig, CBS, ABC news, and The News Journal all gathered around to come to a consensus of creating yet another police versus civilian drama. But, the story unfolded, revealing the evidence as it is right now.
Deputy stops man; man drives away. Does a chase ensue or does the man go directly after the Deputy with his car? This area remains gray. Deputy says he drives directly towards him. Could the Deputy have gotten out of the way or was it shoot or be killed? Could the Deputy attack the vehicle before the man or is this kind of act only for Hollywood films, Hollywood cops, Hollywood dramas? Would things be different, less fatal if the man wasn’t black? Would things be different less lost in gray if the police had body cameras? The questions remain, but the pain still stings and the county still wreaks with the stench of yet another casualty, however one thing becomes certain beyond the billowing cloud of uncertainty: Cecil County is a crumbling county.
A crumbling county with seemingly no objective from the people to address the nature of their degradation. A crumbling county with people willing to just shake off the piece-by-piece destruction of their towns and accredit the destruction to the problem of others instead of a problem of ours. A crumbling county that truly believes that the homeless holding signs in medians are simply lazy, drug-addicts with no initiative to work, since according to the County’s most brilliant persons there is only a culture of poverty, not a system that influences and creates it, and persons addicted to drugs are simply a problem for prisons, not a patient in need of true psychological rehabilitation. A crumbling county that takes all of their insubordinate children (my brother was thought to be one) and simply sentences them to MIPs (which only disciplines via boredom) and suspensions (which does absolutely nothing) while their intellect and their capabilities is denounced as too problematic and an exploration of their personal attributes, goals, and wishes are brushed aside for the sake of common core curriculum, standardized testing, quality representational statistics and a lack of emphasis on the arts and politically-inclined humanities (this is also an issue for the nation as a whole). Truly, if it wasn’t for the strong will of my brother and the love and direction of my parents who knows if my brother would be in college right now.
Nevertheless, the issues of race, identity and difference in Cecil County are also continuing to get swept under the carpet by political and educational leaders, and it won’t be until the issue explodes like a Ferguson that it is addressed. Black Americans and Latino Americans are coming to Cecil County in more rapid rates, hailing from Wilmington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and elsewhere. With few jobs in the community, the scapegoat form of racism is going to emerge among the impoverished and working class persons of Cecil County and the problem of race will explode, if diversity is not addressed – linguistically, culturally, socially, and in our educational institutions. The LGBTQ+ community is becoming more open in all areas of the world, even in Cecil County, but still, Cecil County is stuck in a historic ideology and many of these open and proud individuals will be pushed to the outskirts of society – bullied, hated, despised. This kind of outcasting can turn deadly in the form of suicide as well as in the form of retaliation. All this because of the belief that cultural and social education is a liberal indoctrination of students, but if liberal indoctrination means teaching students cultural competence and the significance of equality alongside the significance of liberty, all while circumventing death, than liberal indoctrination is much needed.
I do not know what to make of the Deputy’s shootings, and I am not saying that there is no evidence that the Deputy might have been justified in his actions. But, we must call it into question to get at at least a remnant of truth. And, I am not an anti-police force leftist, I am a truth-seeker, a leftist – yes, but a truth-seeker first. And the truth is that these kind of issues are only the first of the growing anxiety in a county that is simply falling apart; and the truth is that these kinds of issues cannot be dismissed as isolated actions or pushed into the ignorant “otherness” of “That’s not my problem,” because the truth is: this is your problem. This is our problem, and that’s why an hour away from home I felt a cry seep into the seams of my broken heart as I saw evidence of the bleeding of the place I’ve called home since I was six. This bleeding didn’t start with this shooting; it didn’t started with the killing of the elderly couple at Glen Farms; it didn’t start with the disappearance and murder of the two young men at Whiningbrook; it didn’t start with the young boy in Perryville who killed his father; it started the moment we let go of community, the moment we let go of humanity, the moment we let go of understanding in exchange for one-track mindedness, selfishness, and “me-me-me” ideology. But, we must come together, or we will all fall apart.