‘Uncomfortable Conversations’ Need To Be Held In Order To Improve Race Relations in Frederick County

That was discussed Monday during a virtual town hall on racial equity.


Frederick, Md (KM) There were presentations Monday night from the Frederick County School System, the Health Department, the Office of Economic Development and the Human Relations Commission during a virtual town hall on racial equity. But it there is to be improvements in race relations in the community there needs to be some “uncomfortable conversations” about the ugliness of racism. That’s according ot Akiyyah Billups, one of the panelists who was also one of the organizers  of the March for Justice in Frederick.

“The experiences run deep within our community. And I really don’t think you’re getting uncomfortable enough to have the conversations to implement the changes that is necessary for the years of discrimination that have happened, the treatment, the torture and the trauma that people of color have endured,” says Billups, who was addressing her comments to County Executive Jan Gardner, who organized the town hall.

Billups said there were no representatives from law enforcement taking part in the virtual town hall. “A lot of the anger, the frustration, the tension is rooted in the way that people of color are policed, policed in America, policed locally,” she said.

“Obviously as a white person, I haven’t lived the Black Experience. I haven’t walked in your shoes,” Gardner responded. “And intellectually understanding and living it are two completely different things.”

But Gardner says she’s willing to have those “uncomfortable conversations” about racism. “I think what is different now than maybe in the past is that the fact there is much broader support. And people who don’t get it, who are not willing to have the uncomfortable conversations,  are willing to do that. I’m willing to do that,” she said.

But Gardner said any change will take time.

The County Executive says she’s willing to meet in smaller groups to discuss the issues of racial equity in the community.

Also taking part in the town hall was Dr. Keith Harris, Director of Accelerating Achievement and Equity for the Public School System; Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Heath Officer; County Human Relations Commission Chair Mari Lee;  Helen Propheter, Director of the County’s Office of Economic Development :  and Alija Gee, another organizer of the March for Justice in Frederick.


By Kevin McManus