Latino county res­i­dents feel­ing threat­ened

Record Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

— The fifth in the se­ries of “Sun­day Sup­pers” with the goal of im­prov­ing race re­la­tions in Queen Anne’s County took place Sun­day af­ter­noon, April 23, in the ban­quet hall at the Crumpton Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment. This time, Latino res­i­dents of the county were in­vited to ex­press them­selves on how re­la­tions be­tween the races can im­prove.

The first ses­sion, in July 2016, was open to the gen­eral pub­lic at the Kramer Cen­ter in Cen­tre­ville. It was fol­lowed in Septem­ber with a ses­sion for clergy at the ren­o­vated Ken­nard High School . In Novem­ber, ed­u­ca­tors from the county gath­ered at Cen­tre­ville United Methodist Church. In Fe­bru­ary, teens and lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cers met at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege. Each group has brought its own point of view and con­cerns.

From the be­gin­ning of the April ses­sion, dy­nam­ics

were clearly dif­fer­ent, from the Latino food that was of­fered to free child care that was pro­vided for par­ents with young chil­dren to be able to at­tend. Also, a trans­la­tor was needed at more than one of the 10 round ta­bles of 8 to 10 peo­ple, as not ev­ery­one was to­tally flu­ent in both English and Span­ish.

The dis­cus­sions be­gan with three ba­sic ques­tions for each per­son to answer. Ques­tion 1. What is your main job/em­ploy­ment you do to make a liv­ing? 2. What was your first ex­pe­ri­ence with a per­son of a dif­fer­ent race / cul­tural back­ground? 3. What can be done to make ev­ery­one feel more a part of the com­mu­nity in Queen Anne’s County?

The an­swers were of great di­ver­sity, how­ever, the answer given most fre­quently from Lati­nos in the groups was that their chil­dren are be­ing told things by class­mates while in school that since Don­ald Trump has been elected pres­i­dent that all of them are go­ing to be de­ported. The chil­dren have come home ask­ing their par­ents if these state­ments are true, and what can they do not to be sent back to the coun­tries they once lived in? Al­most all of these Latino chil­dren have been born here in the U.S. and are cit­i­zens. The com­ments have caused fear among the Latino chil­dren not knowing what to be­lieve.

In the race re­la­tions dis­cus­sions, many of the adults rec­og­nized that these com­ments made at schools by their peers are things “the of­fend­ing chil­dren” are re­peat­ing from what is be­ing said to them by their par­ents. That young chil­dren don’t al­ways re­al­ize the sen­si­tiv­ity of their com­ments to other chil­dren. It was rec­om­mended for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive ses­sion, that par­ents and their chil­dren be in­vited to come to the next dis­cus­sion on im­prov­ing race re­la­tions.

These com­ments about be­ing de­ported are not nec­es­sar­ily hap­pen­ing only at school, but that is the place where the op­por­tu­ni­ties for such com­ments are most of­ten hap­pen­ing.

Among the ta­ble dis­cus­sions, one Latino man com­mented, “I un­der­stand de­port­ing some­one if they com­mit a vi­o­lent crime. Yes, de­port that per­son if he does that. The au­thor­i­ties should kick him out of the coun­try, but not to tar­get a group of peo­ple just be­cause of the ac­tions of iso­lated in­stances.”

In con­clud­ing com­ments for the Crumpton ses­sion, sev­eral peo­ple ac­knowl­edged that this was again a valu­able dis­cus­sion, es­pe­cially in­clud­ing the Latino com­mu­nity.

David Rosario-Tor­res said, “Thanks for open­ing the doors to talk, es­pe­cially to the Span­ish­s­peak­ing com­mu­nity.”

One Latino wo­man com­mented that she “en­joyed talk­ing about where we all came from, and shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.” Queen Anne’s As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Janet Pauls com­pli­mented the chil­dren who were pre­sent dur­ing the ses­sions for their good be­hav­ior (they did not par­tic­i­pate in the dis­cus­sions with the adults), and said, “We ap­pre­ci­ate the feed­back to help make all fam­i­lies feel wel­come here in the county.”

Dis­cus­sion fa­cil­i­ta­tor Mary Walker said, “I think all of us are grate­ful to be here, and for ev­ery­one to know that this is a com­mu­nity that cares!”

There was a con­cur­ring sen­ti­ment that, as one per­son ex­pressed, “We need more dis­cus­sions like this from each other. We can do bet­ter.”

Sun­day Sup­per Steer­ing Com­mit­tee mem­ber Ed Modell said, “The ses­sions have been very suc­cess­ful, and the turnout ex­cel­lent. When we were ini­tially plan­ning these, we weren’t sure any­one would come.” Now more than 400 peo­ple have at­tended in five dif­fer­ent ses­sions.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Jack Ba­con, left, re­counts his first ex­pe­ri­ence with some­one of a dif­fer­ent racial back­ground when he joined the mil­i­tary at 18 years of age, as dis­cus­sion fa­cil­i­ta­tor Mary Walker, lo­cal 18year farmer Jose Vasquez, and com­mer­cial build­ing at­ten­dant Rube­lina Ortez, lis­ten, Sun­day af­ter­noon, April 23, at the Crumpton VFD.

The small sign posted at each ta­ble stat­ing the goals for the Sun­day Sup­per dis­cus­sions on im­prov­ing race re­la­tions in Queen Anne’s County. This was the 5th in a se­ries of dis­cus­sions held through­out the county that be­gan in July, 2016. To date, nearly 400 peo­ple in the county have par­tic­i­pated.

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