End Racism FCPS Logo

End Racism FCPS is an organization created by Frederick County Public Schools alumni and current students that aims to address racial injustices that occur within the school system. 

For some, the idea that racism is still prevalent in modern-day society is a preposterous idea. Slavery is over. Segregation is over. Equal opportunities seem to exist for everyone. 

But Sirad Hassan, Crystal Yuille, and Amya Diggs know that is not the case, because they experienced it almost daily within the walls of each Frederick County Public School they attended. 

Hassan and Yuille both graduated from Urbana High School within the last seven years. Diggs is entering her senior year at Walkersville High School. Each of them says students of color still experience racism within the school system.

For Diggs, it's been hearing "the n-word" uttered throughout halls and classrooms with no backlash. For Hassan, it was being educated by a curriculum that was Euro-centric and featured no Black authors or voices. For Yuille, it was a teacher telling her that some slaves were ok with their subjugation because their master was like their father.

“There are a ton of experiences that I've had that to this day makes me angry,” Yuille said.

All three women feel there has been a lack of effort to address these instances and those that still occur by both FCPS higher-ups and the Board of Education. 

They're tired of asking others to make the change, so they're making it themselves.

Starting a Movement

It started with a petition penned by Hassan and Dayna Valek, a Catoctin High School graduate. The petition, a letter to FCPS staff and community members, demands a re-examination of how equity and diversity are handled within FCPS and asks the school system to implement anti-racist education.

Hassan, who graduated from Princeton University this past Spring, decided to create one for FCPS after seeing similar petitions for other school districts circulating online.

“[FCPS] must immerse students of all grades in complex historical discourse that highlights how racism and white privilege throughout the nation’s history has perpetuated many of the issues we see today,” the petition says.

It calls for specific initiatives such as hiring more staff and teachers of color, a third-party review of the FCPS curriculum, more training for staff about implicit bias, and discussions within classrooms about racial justice, white privilege, and movements such as Black Lives Matter.

As of Tuesday, Hassan and Valek’s letter had over 2,000 signatures of support.

Hassan said once the petition began circling online it received signatures quickly and from all groups of people including current middle schoolers and those who graduated FCPS in the 1970s. Those who signed also began sharing their own memories and experiences directly on the web page.

Seeing how impactful the petition was Hassan decided to take the effort one step further and create “End Racism FCPS," which is now formally organized and run primarily by people who signed the original letter.

Yuille and Diggs have since become more involved. 

“The reason this [organization] is important to me is I think that FCPS consistently fails their students...they create an environment that’s toxic for a lot of people to go through,” Yuille said.

She hopes the town hall and the work “End Racism FCPS” is doing will open eyes to some of the racist microaggressions that students of color endure on a daily basis. These experiences may be small, but they are still wrong, Yuille said.

“I think oftentimes when people of color tell their experiences people don’t want to believe it or care until they hear about the worst of the worst,” she said. “I think every experience is valid and I think it speaks to the different experiences that people of color have to deal with in this school system and in this country.”

Lack of Effort

For Yuille, Hassan, and Diggs, FCPS and the Board of Education has failed to seriously address issues of inequality and racism in school buildings.

Hassan pointed to the Racial Equity Committee, which was approved last year by the Board, as a prime example of FCPS waiting years to address problems that have been occurring for decades.

“Because of COVID I do understand that there were things that were put on hold but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the committee literally was only established so recently,” Hassan said. “What have they been doing the rest of the time?”

Yuille agreed and said she is skeptical of such committees.

“In general, we see that racial equity committees tend to be used as a distraction to kind of appease folks and to try and convince them that something is being done when in reality there is no real effort to make things happen,” Yuille said.

Board Vice President Jay Mason said the Racial Equity Committee should have been formed sooner, but did not want to comment on directions by previous Board members.

“It was formed when it was formed,” Mason said.

Hassan said she doesn’t understand why she and others were able to come together and organize so quickly while the Racial Equity Committee has been slow-moving.

The pandemic put a delay in the committee’s work however they did recently elect officers at their June meeting, Mason said.

Hassan also said public comment at current Board meetings seems to be brushed aside due to time limits and meetings being held virtually. Currently, public comments are emailed to the Board and are read during the virtual meeting. However, not all the comments emailed in are always read.

Those that are not read are uploaded onto the Board of Education’s BoardDocs website.

“[The Board is] not really being transparent about the ways in which they are choosing who and what is going to be shared, and it kind of eliminates and strips the people’s power of being able to share their stories and experiences,” Hassan said.

This lack of a space to share concerns is what led to the town hall, which Hassan said will not have a time limit. Folks who wish to speak will sign up in advance and will not be restricted in terms of how long or what they want to speak about.

“This is our way of showing that this is how to have proper public testimony and public comment with your constituents,” Hassan said.

School Superintendent Terry Alban said in an email that it hurts to know that FCPS students have experienced racism and appreciates that Hassan and the other organizers have set a goal to end it.

Mason declined to comment specifically on “End Racism FCPS” but said he is glad students are speaking up about their experiences.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s being held, but it’s good that it’s being held. I think the community needs to hear what these students have gone through and having gone through some of this myself I completely understand how they feel,” Mason said.

Support is great, but action is critical, Hassan said.

“If [the Board is] really in support, they would stand fully behind what we are doing and they would stand fully behind committing to radical change...because what they’ve been doing is not enough,” she said.

In response to Hassan’s assertion that there is a lack of effort by the Board, Mason said it has taken steps such as creating an equity policy and forming the Racial Equity Committee.

“We are looking for every student to have a good experience in school. If they are not we need to do more,” Mason said.

Diggs agreed with Hassan and said she feels throughout her years as an FCPS student she has heard lots of talk from higher-ups but has not seen anything change.

“They’ve been talking for so long, when is the change actually going to happen? Part of what we’re doing is requiring them to hold themselves accountable whether they want to stand behind it or not,” Diggs said.

Root Causes

Besides the formation of the Racial Equity Committee FCPS has pointed to its work addressing the achievement gap as a step towards fixing inequalities that exist between white students and students of color.

The achievement gap refers to the disparity of academic success and performances between student groups. It often occurs between white students and students of color.

Alban told the New-Post in June that the effort to minimize the gap started five years ago with cultural proficiency work and training.

“Part of the reason we have an achievement gap isn't just because of the quality of instruction in the classroom. It's because of some of the implicit biases that we have,” Alban said. “And we knew that if you're going to address the achievement gap, you can't just change instruction. You also have to change mindset and attitudes.”

Yuille, however, said the achievement gap is a patronizing term and another way for the school system to ignore dealing with the actual problem of systemic racism and how institutions were designed to hinder students of color rather than benefit them.

“If we think about segregation, if we think about the way property taxes are set up to provide certain resources to different communities, if we think about the fact that students of color are disproportionately affected or punished for the same actions of their white peers then, of course, we see a difference in the level of achievement,” Yuille said. “But that’s not the problem, the problem is the system wasn’t designed for these students.”

The town hall is just the beginning. Hassan said she hopes the Board and FCPS will partner with “End Racism FCPS” to bring about actual change and new initiatives.

Alban said addressing such issues is a journey that FCPS is committed to being on, but that she is unsure if it can ever be fully tackled.

“I don't know if you ever really get to the final point where you can achieve that ultimate goal,” Alban said. “But I know if you're willing to be on that journey and ask yourself hard questions and to unpack your biases and to listen to others and try to understand, that's when you start really being able to work together to make a difference.”

Yuille, who left Frederick County immediately after graduation in order to disassociate with some of the negative experiences she endured, wants a full resolution so the racism that she faced in school is not allowed or normalized, she said.

Yuille said she will continue to work for change and thinks the town hall is a good first step but is skeptical of how much effort the school system and county are willing to put in.

“It would be wonderful to live in a world where I wouldn’t have to worry about students in FCPS...it would be really wonderful to see people show a concerted effort to care about kids of color,” Yuille said. “But that requires work and reflection and reconciliation and healing and I'm not sure the extent to which the institutions in Frederick are willing to do that.”

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill

(39) comments

petersamuel

Phydeaux: racism -- the belief that a person's race defines their capabilities and requires them to be treated differently --- is almost entirely on the political left these days. The whole 'diversity racket' under which members of the supposed victim race are not expected to score as high to get jobs or college admission is based on the racist notion that they are less capable, and that they have to be given special treatment. It's ignorant and repulsive. Those who defend it are the racists.

bosco

[thumbup][ninja]

phydeaux994

To whom it may concern. bosco, et al, what is Racism to you? What is your definition of Racism that I’m missing. The way you talk about Racism makes it very nebulous. It’s not, the definition of Racism is simple and clear. You obviously believe that many races of people are of a much different species that are inferior to, in your case, the White race and do not deserve the Rights and Freedom that your race has earned by being more industrious and responsible than their races. That is RACISM!! There is no other definition. What say you?? Define your version of Racism.

girlpolitic

If these things are validated and verified then it demonstrates the failed leadership of FCPS and BOE and necessary action is clear. The longest serving leadership must resign or be removed. Superintendent Theresa R. Alban appointed 2011 and BOE President Brad Young who has been on the Board since 2010.

threecents

You cannot blame public servants like Brad and Theresa for America's original sin. Theresa should be commended for her acknowledgement of a systemic problem.

petersamuel

3c: you congratulate the FCPS super for calling racism 'a systemic problem.' But isn't that just a cop-out? If this 'racism is systemic then it is the responsibility of the larger social, economic and political system, not her responsibility as head of the County schools. You are congratulating her for passing the buck?

awteam2000

Petersamuel,

you may not have notice but “Aunt Jemima“ is coming off the pan cake box. As well as many other offense characters of blacks on commercial products. The NFL is now acknowledging “Black Lives Matter”. The NASCAR has removed the Confederate Flag from their sports events. Some of the most largest corporations are expressing the same, ( Stanley Morgan, Netflix, Amazon) and others. Disney signed a partnership and sponsorship with Colin Kaepernick.

The national coalition of labor unions, along with racial and social justice organizations, will stage a mass walkout from work on July 20th, as part of an ongoing reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S.

Mississippi removed the confederate emblem off their flag. States and local governments are removing confederate statues as fast as they can before they’re pulled down.

Local community groups are having discussions about racial inequity across the country. Not to mention self awareness and protest across the world. Have you seen the participants? They are mostly white.

I guess it’s only appropriate for the “FCPS super for calling racism 'a systemic problem” like everyone else is.🤷‍♂️

awteam2000

Girlpolitic, you may want to read the 1619 Project an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and times leading up till today, the 401st anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia.

yogib

It is refreshing to see young folk stepping up to combat racism. So many of the writers here think there is no racism in Frederick, I suspect that most of the writers will pass for white and really have little or no experience of what people of color face every day in Frederick .

wran

i have raised a biracial boy since infancy. I am very skeptical there is systematic racial animosity. He was very popular in school. He has many friends of all races, black, white, Latino and oriental He was elected president of his class. His teachers recommended he go to the magnet school. He declined because he liked his schools so much. Valley, Brunswick Middle, and Brunswick High. He still lives with us. We never experienced any racism at school, in our neighborhood, on athletic teams, or in Frederick County.

bosco

Thank you for your comments wran. I have to wonder who is perpetuating the concept of racism in America and to what ends. I have my own theory and when I finally connected all of the dots, I left the Democratic party.

[ninja]

PurplePickles

for some reason Bosco I don't think the Democratic party misses you

bosco

Yawn.[ninja]

threecents

Of course the Democratic Party misses Bosco. It probably wishes he would hang around a different circle of friends.

bosco

They don't miss me at all if all of the requests for donations are any evidence. I just got one from Hillary a few weeks ago.

petersamuel

Good for you, Wran. No doubt there is nastiness out there, but it has always seemed to me best to take people as they regardless of background. Nastiess comes in many forms but at present there seems to a completely unwarranted hysteria over racial nastiness. Now you used the term 'biracial' it occurs to me I have three grandchildren 8, 6 and 4 in northern NJ that are biracial. I just think of them as grandchildren worth being proud of. The older two are shaping up as formidable chess players, and they now make me worry a bit when I get their challenges to play online at chess.com. They learned to be good players so quickly. Not good enough to beat me now, but in a few months time....?

awteam2000

Wran, It’s good to here that every minority student hasn’t suffered such intolerable racist acts. That’s a bright light. Now let’s apply it to all students.

Note: Oriental to describe individuals of Asian descent is outdated. Many Asians see it as racist, similar to referring to Blacks as Negroes. Oriental should be reserved for objects, such as rugs, pottery, artifacts not people.

Good luck to his future.

Blueline

I wonder if Ms. Hassan found white privilege at Princeton. Did she have to major in American History, or pay twice the tuition that a white student would?

DickD

There definitely is racism but some of these remarks are ridiculous.

jloo

I am a minority. Latino..a "brown skin". I have lived in Frederick County since 2013. White folks, help me. Where is the racism? Please, help me find it. I have yet to experience racism in the county or state for that matter. I'm 61 and can only cite one racist act toward me when I was 16 or 17 and living in CT. I'll continue searching for the systemic racism. If you find it before me, please, let me know!!

bosco

Thank ylou, I share your experience. [ninja]

awteam2000

Bosco, You may want to invest in a “DNA test”. You jump all over the place with your ethnicity. You are one day white, afraid of blacks. The next day your father, was not allowed housing in southern hotels after WWII because he had “ashy skin”, darker. You then say you inherited your features from your dad, “barker skinned”. Teased, that’s why you go by the name “Bosco” (a popular chocolate shake mix at the time) your complexion was passed to you, but you conceded to the bullies. Your father and you were discriminated against based on your ashy skin. So now, today you are Hispanic. What will you be tomorrow? Sounds like you can change faces for whatever is convenient, less threatening or maybe you can’t. On the last census form, how did you describe yourself? You do understand your confusion in “who you are“ is all based on race, there for racist. Right?

bosco

Never said I was Hispanic, just that I shared his experience of not having encountered racism in Frederick. As I have said before, I am mixed race and that's how I identify. Percentages of which were never important to our family when I was growing up. With that confidence, I can move freely among many communities and the only people it seems to bother are liberals who need to categorize everyone. And I agree with Peter Samuels post above - those who continue to focus on categories defined by race are the real racists. Don't let yourself become that which you hate.

Have a cold glass of Bosco and chill.

[ninja]

Pisces

Agree

threecents

I recommend reading "The New Jim Crow". It opened my eyes to systemic racism in America.

sevenstones1000

People who think racism doesn’t exist just need to read the comments here at FNP.

Don’t worry, they’ll show up.

phydeaux994

Amen seven. And it’s weird, because there are no Racists in Frederick County!!???

DickD

Nope, we are lily white. [lol]

bosco

That's your Reticular Activating System, RAS, at work. From an online blog with an easy explanation of how it works:

"Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It then sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you. All of this happens without you noticing, of course. The RAS programs itself to work in your favor without you actively doing anything. Pretty awesome, right?

In the same way, the RAS seeks information that validates your beliefs. It filters the world through the parameters you give it, and your beliefs shape those parameters. If you think you are bad at giving speeches, you probably will be. If you believe you work efficiently, you most likely do. The RAS helps you see what you want to see and in doing so, influences your actions. "

https://medium.com/desk-of-van-schneider/if-you-want-it-you-might-get-it-the-reticular-activating-system-explained-761b6ac14e53

So, if you go looking for racism, you are sure to find it. If you go looking for the good in people, you are sure to find it. Another example. Let's say you buy a new car, a Ford XYZ. The first thing you start noticing is how many other people are driving Ford XYZs. As you are driving around in your XYZ, you start noticing other XYZs on the road. You unconciously say to yourself, there's another one. There's another one. Wow, I made a good choice to buy this XYZ. They're all over the place. But, those XYZs were there all the time, your RAS just filtered them out.

And so it goes with looking for racism.

Try looking for the good in the world around you. Life is good, and thus it is.

[ninja]

DickD

That is about the best analysis I have seen, Bosco. [thumbup][thumbup]

bosco

Thanks, DickD. I met a very enlightened man many years ago, Gordon Graham, who shared the concept in his book titled "The One-Eyed Man Is King". I wrote him several years later and told him how much the simple concept changed my life, and still does. It's part of the reason I say life is good and every day is a good day.

[ninja]

threecents

I've heard of a similar thing called hypnosis.

threecents

Me, I would rather be a witness to truth than wear rose colored glasses and chant "Don't Worry Be Happy."

bosco

Keep looking for that cloud around the silver lining, threecents, and you are sure to find it.

[ninja]

TomWheatley

Spot on. Our High School went thru some turmoil in the early 70s like most of the Country, but I only remember my wonderful classmates standing together to combat the outsiders coming in to raise ruckus.

PurplePickles

So are you saying there isn't anymore racism, that it's all gone Bosco? Do you read any other newspaper than the FNP ? What news channel to you watch?

Before the pandemic you didn't get out much did you?

Maybe you should go talk to the students in the article and tell them that their experiences are all imagined and there is no racism and that they should just look for the good in the world, that's as bad as telling a woman to smile, both sound like what a white male with racial privileges would say and think he said something brilliant when in fact he said something stunningly stupid.

bosco

Have yourself a nice day, purple. [ninja]

bosco

Evidently there is so little racism that a Latino guy had to spray the hate graffiti on the little covered bridge in Baker Park to help out and give the BLMers something to march about.

I'm sure the leftists liberals will find some way to blame Trump for this one too.

[lol][lol][lol][lol]

PurplePickles

Yet another stunningly stupid comment yet again Bosco. Your racial privileges are really shining today., be proud. [scared][scared]

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