Letters to the Editor

An invitation to do better

Editor:

I have read the articles about Washington’s City Council and the controversy surrounding allowing Kesho Scott, a Black college professor, to speak about diversity in the Washington city park.

It seems to me that this controversy illustrates the dichotomy of opinions in our nation.

I am a white woman who has now begun to see how many ways my whiteness has allowed me freedoms and opportunities that I have taken for granted. I hear the experiences of African Americans in our midst who do not have the same freedoms.

I hear of Black women going into stores and realizing the clerk is following them around. I hear of Black parents giving their sons “the talk” about what to do if stopped by police officers. I hear of young Black men being pulled over for no apparent reason other than that they were driving in a white neighborhood.

The thing is these are not occasional incidents. They are routine. And the problem is that, too often, these incidents escalate into violence.

I assure you that I am not criticizing the police here. I know they have a difficult job. I am in favor of looking at ways to better train and equip them and to provide them with human resources for situations that might be better handled by social workers or mental health professionals.

When I read that one of the councilmen in Washington said that Blacks should “get over it,” I reply that the trouble is it’s not just in the past, over and done with. Black people are still dealing with injustice.

The facts show that they continue to be marginalized. Just one example of this is that Blacks have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. They have more underlying health issues due to not being able to afford good health care or healthier food choices.

They may not have access to healthy choices in their neighborhoods. You can’t “get over” something until it has been addressed. Only then can healing begin.

I also disagree with the statement that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization. Look at their website and you will see what they are about. The last line of the description of the organization is:

“We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.”

These organizers are not the rioters. Rioting and property damage cannot be condoned. The destruction does not serve those who protest peacefully for justice. It complicates and confuses the situation.

As for the disagreement about the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” it comes from a place of feeling like they haven’t mattered.

Of course, all lives matter. Peace will not come in our society until white people can admit to themselves that even though they do not identify as racists, they have benefitted from a dominant white culture. Just because we don’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

This is an invitation for us to do better.

Lynn Ellsworth

Mt. Pleasant