Category Archives: Activism

Collingtonian Article on our “Pre-History” Raises Questions about Next Steps

Occasionally, this blog draws attention to articles in our sister publication, the Collingtonian. Peggy Latimer’s piece in the January 2018 issue is deserving of such focus. The piece, tells the history of slaves here at Collington, to the minimal extent that it can be reconstructed from wills and other documents. The story is particular present, because of the graves up on the hill, including one of Basil Warring, who had “inherited” ten slaves from his father.

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It is, of course, deeply shaming for a white person to read, and I think Peggy gets just the right combination of factual clarity and respectful perspective:

Marsham’s 1730 will listed them. All but one, however, were identified only by first name [spelling and punctuation through- out are as written in the original documents]: “One Negro Man named Caceour One Negro Man named Hercules one Negro Man named George One Negro Woman named Moll One Mulatto Boy named Charles One Mulatto boy called Robin One Negro Boy named Will Bulger One Mulatto Girl named Sarah One Mulatto Girl named Cate one Negro girl named Lucy and their Increase”

Peggy notes at the end, “With much research, we may be able to learn more of the history of these people. At the very least, shouldn’t we be honoring those enslaved persons who lived and labored on the land where we all now reside?” At the very minimum we should find public ways to recognize and honor that we enjoy the legacy of the labor of their forced and denied lives. Without in any way suggesting equivalence, the need to remember and honor reminds me that a few years ago, I went with my Polish Holocaust surviving aunt to a gymnasium (high school) in Mainz Germany, and for our visit, as part of a larger group, they had put up a mounted display of The Holocaust in Mainz, including a map showing locations.

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Here is a photo of my aunt with some of the display. The kids were deeply respectful and attentive.

Surely we can try to do as much.

Indeed, there must be much else that we could do, that not only reminds of the past, but steers us for the future in these apparently anti-historical times.

Good News!

By Marian Fuchs

It’s always fun to meet the children of fellow-residents.  Mostly we see them in the dining room for weekend meals.  But sometimes we get to hear from them directly, and that’s even better.   Later this week we’re going to have the chance to hear from the Florini’s two daughters, both of whom are following illustrious careers.   Their talk title suggests that we’re going to hear something positive — just what we need right around now!   sisters3a

 

A Difficult and Courageous Testament

The personal testament that appears below is probably not of the kind that we would ordinarily publish on our website.  However, given the urgency of the topic’s moment, the courage of those coming forward and the importance of our national exploration, we are sharing it with admiration for the author’s strength.

The piece is authored by Collington resident Jane Engle, for whom making her name public is itself an important statement.

I wish to take advantage of this moment in history to share briefly a few stories of sexual harassment and abuse from my life. I do so because it is healing for me to write these stories and, even more so, to make them public. I do so in the hope that other residents and those who read this website will also find healing in sharing their stories in whatever venue is appropriate for them. I do so in fear that residents or staff, who are now experiencing similar situations, have remained silent because they fear dire consequences. I hope they find support from all the stories that are being told and the strength to tell the authorities who can help them. What follows involve a family member, a professor, a doctor, a minister and a friend.

A member of my family sexually abused me. I “don’t remember” these events. They are “secrets” in the family. I’ve never told anyone about these events.

A professor during my university studies who was the chairman of my honors thesis sexually abused me over a long period of time. I discovered that he had abused many other students before and after me. The administration knew of his actions, but he continued to teach until many years later when he retired as professor emeritus. He was held in high esteem by the many professional societies he belonged to.

A psychiatrist sexually abused me while I was a student at another university. I saw him at the student health clinic where he was the only doctor. He told me he could help me if I was in analysis with him. First he told me lie on a couch. (This was actually the usual practice in analysis.) Then he said we should have back-to-back hourly sessions. Then he said walks would help me feel more open in the sessions. And then he held my hand during these walks. In his office he told me to undress so that he could help me feel good about my body. Then he felt intimate parts of my body. (This last sentence is so painful to remember and, even more so, to write.) It was almost a decade before I was told and believed that this was most certainly not done to help me and that it was  abuse. I then reported these events to the appropriate professional society.  A committee of psychiatrists listened to our disparate stories, decided that I was not telling the truth, and told the psychiatrist to continue his practice.

A minister sexually harassed an intern in a church where I was also an intern. I found out that he had sexually harassed previous interns as well as a seminary student who was in counseling with him. With overwhelming guilt, the reasons for which are hard to understand today, I told the authorities. The minister continued to serve at the same church during the year long bungled investigation. He told others who were in his care that the events were consensual. A person from the church where he previously had served knew of his behavior, but never said anything because “this would ruin his reputation.” Twenty years later I learned that he had just been retired.

A woman, who had been in a religious order and who is one of my best friends, told me in front of her spouse that she had been raped by a man who was and remains in a religious order. Her companion was horrified and said she had never heard about this even though they had been living together for many years. I’ll never forget her exact words, “This was just one of those things. It happens all the time.”

My stories are not unique. I am quite sure many women and men who read this have had experiences that have been more harmful and possibly even violent. Some will inevitably throw stones at those of us who speak about unspeakable things. We have only our integrity on the line. This being said, I continue to struggle with the “secret” in my family.

We appreciate Jane’s courage in writing this piece, and hope the community can find ways to support her, and surely others in tragically similar situations.

Leading Age Action Alert On Threat to Medical Deduction

This action alert from Leading Age may be of interest. It stands for itself:

Medical Expense Deduction and Tax-Exempt
Financing on the Chopping Block

Major tax reform legislation, H.R. 1, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and will soon come to a vote.

The bill contains 2 provisions of serious concern to aging services providers and the elders they serve:

  1. Elimination of the tax deduction for medical expenses.
  2. Elimination of tax-exempt financing for the development and preservation of affordable senior housing and life plan communities/CCRCs.

This radical legislation would disproportionately affect older adults, many of whom have higher than average medical costs and/or need affordable housing.

Congress needs to hear from you today. Tell your lawmakers to protect the medical expense deduction and tax-exempt financing for senior housing and life plan communities/CCRCs. Tell them older adults need this. Tell them protecting these tax provisions is the right thing to do.

How You Can Help

  • Call your lawmakers TODAY at 855-837-6894. We’ve set up this toll-free number to connect you directly to their offices.
  • Share this information with the residents in your community and suggest that they call as well. The proposed changes will directly impact them.
  • Forward this action alert to your network.

Steps for Making a Call

  • Dial this toll-free number 855-837-6894.
  • Feel free to use the sample script below when you talk to the staff person who answers the phone.
  • After talking with the staff person, do not hang up. The automated system will connect you to your representative and then to each of your senators.

Background

My name is _______ and I am a constituent. I urge Representative/Senator ____ to oppose provisions of H.R. 1, tax reform legislation that would eliminate the medical expense deduction.

Also, please preserve tax-exempt financing for the development and preservation of affordable senior housing and retirement communities, which would be eliminated under H.R. 1.

I hope Representative/Senator ____ will stand up for older adults and protect these crucial tax benefits for seniors and middle-income families.

Politics in Action at Collington — Good News, Bad News

On Saturday, November 4th, the League of Women Voters of Prince George’s County graced Collington with its presence and that of newly elected junior U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen.  He is a member of the powerful Appropriations and Budget Committees.  Many of us found his presentation very impressive.

After an open meeting of the League, Senator Van Hollen addressed a crowded auditorium.  The Senator first shared the good news.

A bipartisan Congress authorized the formation of a commission to commemorate the life and work of Maryland born Frederick Douglass on the bicentennial anniversary of his birth.  Douglass was a runaway slave who became an orator, abolitionist, author and advisor to President Lincoln.   You can go to http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/blog/bs-md-trump-douglass-20171102-story.html to learn more about Douglass and the commission.

Another good news story for many there, was, of course, the prevention of the complete demolition of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This would have included 1 trillion dollars in cuts to medicaid (2/3 of which would have affected seniors and people with disabilities).  The Senator praised the effectiveness of the two single-spaced pages of advocacy and provider groups who opposed repeal of the ACA.  National organizations like AARP also played a very significant role.

However, the Senator reported that our biggest challenge ahead is now the proposed tax bill which he vehemently opposes.  The bill offers big, big tax breaks to big corporations, to the tune of 2 trillion dollars.

The means to pay is to increase the taxes on many middle-class families.  One proposed change is to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes.  This is basically double taxation.  Corporations, of course, will continue to deduct these taxes.  This bill also authorizes increasing the national debt to $1.5 trillion, something Republicans talk about being against.  Therefore Senator Van Hollen believes that if this bill passes, the Republicans will implement severe cuts to important programs in health, education, housing, etc.

(Perhaps of even greater concern to Collingtonians —and indeed Collington and all life care communities — is the proposal to eliminate the medical expense deduction.  Given the importance of that deduction in our personal budgets, and those of future residents of all lifecare communities, this is going to have a big impact — if it goes through.  The Washington Post reported on this issue here. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/they-spent-years-planning-to-live-with-alzheimers-disease-the-gop-tax-bill-threatens-those-plans/2017/11/04/83ac1ffa-c098-11e7-8444-a0d4f04b89eb_story.html?utm_term=.d5130d1643b8.)

Van Hollen reported that Republicans will try to strong arm this bill through this week without hearings or amendments.   What can we do since our Senators are already against this tactic?   Well, Senator Van Hollen suggests we contact organizations with national chapters who can represent us and also reach out to people in other states and encourage them to contact their own legislators.

Not bad ideas at all, considering what is at stake.