Ku Klux Klan and racism alive in Garrett County
This is in response to Del. Wendell Beitzel and state Sen. Edwards in regard to their Dec. 28 statement on Ku Klux Klan activity.
The Klan is here, supported by a long history of white supremacist thought.
The Oakland history museum shows us videos of local KKK marches.
Until recently, we had a white supremicist flag hanging from a porch in Accident, Maryland. It has been replaced by a Confederate flag, a popular symbol of the Klan (Not everyone who flies a Confederate flag is affiliated with the Klan).
Klan recruitment fliers have been posted on people’s windshields in recent years.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, “An overwhelming majority (53 of 67) of [KKK] fliering incidents (in 2018) has targeted the mid-Atlantic region, with most of the incidents concentrated in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.”
There is photo documentation of Klan presence in our state from 2015. Three different articles showcase photographs taken by Peter Agtmael of Klan members in both Maryland and Tennessee.
I have Black friends who grew up here and experienced being called racial slurs at school, employers making Klan “jokes” or making monkey sounds when they enter a room, and other experiences within the community at large.
I mentor youth and have become aware of online Klan recruitment techniques through first-person shooter video games. I have had discussions with teens who openly hate people of color and think they should be enslaved. I have spoken to parents who hate Black people and use racial slurs when referring to people of color.
I’ve participated in Garrett College activities and performances and hosted students who have shared stories of racist comments and actions of locals.
I’ve had friends who won’t visit me in Garrett County because of the stories they’ve heard from other people of color.
I’ve had guns pointed at me, fingers on triggers, while peacefully demonstrating with my Black friends.
This community is not nearly as innocent as your response alludes to.
We are collectively racist if we continue to ignore the problem; we must be anti-racist.
I don’t imagine we can change everyone, but we can change the way we respond to racist acts of violence or intimidation, and how we educate our children from now on.
I suggest engaging in local anti-racist discussions, addressing how Black history is taught in our schools, and believing the experiences of people who don’t look like you.