On June 19, Allen County Commissioner Greg Sneary announced that commissioners would not be accepting the invitation from the City of Lima to join in a Human Relations Commission. Based on the reason given by Commissioner Sneary that “it clearly is not our responsibility,” county residents might conclude that systemic racism does not exist in Allen County, or if it does, the commissioners can’t do anything about it. I disagree, on both assertions.
Systemic racism involves how one race of people think and how they deal with people who are not of that race.
While an employee of one of the Allen County schools, I witnessed racism in September 2009, when President Obama asked to address American students during the school day, intending to inspire young people to make the most of their educational opportunities.
Because community members of that school district contacted the school administration and made clear they did not want his speech to be broadcast to all of the classrooms of the district, it was not. I recall The Lima News contacted other area school districts and ran a story on this phenomenon. That was 11 years ago. I have no reason to believe this has changed. Systemic racism exists in Allen County, and as much as we might want to deny it exists, it is an undercurrent of our lives.
The thing about systemic racism is… often we don’t even know when we are part of it because we are so entrenched in doing things in a certain way. I have written to the Allen County Commissioners, asking them to reconsider their June decision. I hope they will do that.