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Saturday, December 10, 2022


Local group combats racism and hatred in the Pasadena community.

*A military family moves into a new neighborhood. The second day, when leaving a store, someone rolls down their window and yells the N-word at them.

A first-generation American of Mexican descent who served in Iraq decided to run for public office in his community. He was attacked with racial slurs and told to “Go back to where you came from.”

A mother is heartbroken when her bi-racial son is called a racial slur by a teacher and the lack of response by the school that followed.*

In addition to sharing the injustice of their personal experience with racism, these families have another thing in common—they all live in Pasadena, Maryland. Racial strife and hate crimes have been on the rise nationwide in recent years, but locally, in Anne Arundel County, Pasadena has found itself under increased scrutiny. 

According to the State of Maryland Hate Bias Report, of all 23 counties in Maryland and Baltimore City, four (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Howard) make up 76.9% of all hate bias reporting in 2018. Pasadena (21122) had the highest reports.

Illustration by Maureen Stewart

But for all of the recent negativity, It is important to acknowledge there are people trying to bring the community together. About the same time as the release of the 2018 Hate Bias Report, the Pasadena community was recovering from a racial incident at Northeast High School. In November 2019, Pasadena residents Debi and John Jasen decided to try to bridge the divide by creating OnePasadena.

Initially OnePasadena started as a Facebook group. “Our first few members were good friends who were willing to work towards racial justice and peace in Pasadena,” John says. Today those few have grown to over 800 members working together for a positive change. 

“We hope to be a community resource to effect positive change, but centered and made up primarily of people in Pasadena,” John says. “We have groups within OnePasadena that include a book club, events organizers, a Pasadena kindness initiative, and Coming to the Table conversations about race and racism.”

OnePasadena organized its first local demonstration in November 2019 in solidarity with students at Northeast High School, after a disturbing racist video was circulated through the student body. Since then members have stayed busy. OnePasadena has organized or participated in close to a dozen events in the past year, including testifying before the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. 


Jasen says many different people are drawn to the grassroots organization. “Its strength lies in its diversity with participants stemming from a variety of racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious groups, as well as from opposing political persuasions,” he says.

“Our members include volunteers dedicated to anti-racism, people involved in our local schools who are tired of the racism, Pasadena people of color who have been subjected to racism in Pasadena, people with the deep-seated belief racism is just wrong, and people who want to learn more.” 

If you live in Pasadena and would like to help reduce racism and racial bias in the community, OnePasadena encourages you to see what they are all about and join at facebook.com/onepasadena.

Illustrations by Maureen Stewart

*Stories from Our Voices Matter: Illustrating the Faces of the Fight in Pasadena, MD

Want to Get Involved?

Other Local Groups Aligned with OnePasadena

United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County
Millenial Marchers of Maryland
Good Trouble in Severna Park
Anne Arundel NAACP

—Joyce Heid

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