Apr 12, 2007
Stop the presses! Howell High School students are perceived as racist by people outside of Livingston County.
In an exercise in stating the obvious, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported today that students attending the District IV Choral Festival at Walled Lake Western High School last month were called racists when they told other students they were from Howell. I have lived in my wife’s hometown of Howell for some 10 years, and do we really need a newspaper story to tell us what people outside of the county think of us?
The most obvious reason we wear this label of racist is because former Klan Grand Dragon Robert E. Miles lived in Cohoctah Township, just outside of Howell, until he died in 1992. He has died, but the actions of some small-minded people in this community have not. People keep ignoring the fact that the many people in the county, the city and the school district continue to reinforce the untrue idea that this is a small-minded, racist community.
The most recent example is the rise of a small but vocal anti-gay hate group known as the” LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education). This group first raised its head after it mounted a campaign against a diversity flag they falsely claimed was a gay pride flag, and then they made national news by trying to ban books, including two books by African-American authors writing about racism, including one author who is a Nobel Laureate.
We also have the planned appearance of famous hatemonger and racist Ann Coulter at Cleary University’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series for the princely sum of $30,000, further reinforcing the general perception that Livingston County is a safe haven for racists and bigots of all ilks, including rich, blonde ones.
We have also had a few instances of hate crimes, like the attack on a black State Trooper a few years ago, and last month a Hamburg Township family were greeted by racist words scrawled on the wall of their Portage Lake home by vandals and the home viciously ransacked.
The headline for the story, “Howell students stung by taunts” seems a little misleading, but in defense of the newspaper, headlines are meant to grab attention and get people to read the story.
When asked where they were from the; “The students proudly replied, "Howell High School," only to be told that being from Howell must mean the students "are racists," the 17-year-old (Kelsea) Raether said. An adult on the trip said the students were called "damn racists."
I hardly call these taunts. It was wrong and should not have happened, but I'm not sure I would call them "taunts." Again, calling people you don’t know racist is wrong, but the students surly could not have been surprised, based on the actions of the adults in the community.