Latino county residents feeling threatened
— 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.
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.