County launches Anne Arundel United race initiative

September 12, 2017

In an effort to dispel racism in the county, Anne Arundel County will create a community ambassador program, expand minority recruiting campaigns to all departments and mandate diversity training for its employees.

“I want everybody in our county to feel that they matter, that they have a voice and that they are wanted,” County Executive Steve Schuh said at the Boys & Girls Club of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, where the initiatives were announced Tuesday.

The initiative, Anne Arundel United, includes tapping volunteers and employees to create a community ambassador program aimed at addressing racial controversy. Also, outreach involving schools, community organizations and social media will be emphasized.

 

County officials said in addition to that outreach initiative they will expand minority recruitment beyond just public safety and into all executive departments. The idea is to have a government staff that is representative of the demographics of the county.

“The offices and commissions under control of the county executive’s office will work aggressively to create campaigns that achieve our recruitment goals,” Schuh said.

Diversity training will be mandatory for the county’s 6,000 employees, officials said. They hope to train the workforce within two years.

The county’s grants administrator and Hispanic community leader Maria Casaco will change roles, becoming the Director of Immigration and Multi-Cultural Affairs, officials said.

For months Anne Arundel County residents have called for action to fight racism. In June, the council passed a resolution that denounced racism and hatred following several events, including the murder of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, a Bowie State University student who was fatally stabbed in May on the campus of the University of Maryland College Park.

In January a petition for a movement celebrating white supremacy, called the “Kool Kids Klub,” circulated at Arundel High School, before being confiscated by school staff. In May, a noose was found hanging from a light fixture at Crofton Middle.

Schuh said the issue of racism is in the forefront because of such events in the county and in nearby areas. Good relations between police and the community and between minority communities and the community have spared Anne Arundel the strife seen elsewhere, Schuh said.

“But that doesn’t mean our county is perfect,” he said, “there is prejudice and there is racism in Anne Arundel County, and we need to all work together hand-in-hand to continue our march toward a more perfect future.”

Councilman Pete Smith, D-Severn, introduced the anti-racism resolution approved by the council this June. At Tuesday’s event, he said he believes the initiatives are the first step to eliminate racism in the county.

Derek Matthews, the county’s minority outreach division leader, gave out bumper stickers with the Anne Arundel United slogan. At his direction, officials joined hands at the event in a show of unity.

Matthews, who is spearheading the initiative, has created a team that includes one representative from every department and the volunteer Human Relations Commission. He plans on expanding to community leaders, teaching them skills such as how to have discussions about race, inclusion and diversity.

“This is bigger than black and white,” Matthews said. “This is about diversity and full-blown inclusion. Once I get people to stop looking past black and white, then the real discussion and the real work begins.”

http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/ac-cn-arundel-united-0913-story.html