Racism is a burden that damages everyone
To the editor:
While riding on a bus between Accra, Ghana, and Lome, Togo, I took a seat next to a stunning young African woman. She had been educated in England as a dietician and said something that has remained with me. She said wistfully, "I have often thought it would be interesting to go to the United States, but I am so afraid I would be mistaken for a Negro!"
Somehow she knew that the U.S. was inherently racist. Perhaps it was because we were only a few miles from Elmina Castle where hundreds of thousands of people just like her were loaded onto cramped slave ships destined for a life of slavery or death at sea.
When I read Alan Gallagher's tirade against the protesters in Portland, it caused me to reflect on my experience and my sense of our country's history. He is entitled to his opinion, but I would like to share mine.
As a child I attended grade school with friends from the local labor camp in Wisconsin, and was perplexed when, after six weeks of classes, my friends left as their migrant families departed for Texas. Even then I wondered, "would Juan be enrolled in school when he got there?"
I remember the look of fear in the eyes of my African-American sister-in-law as she watched her son leave for college in a small, mostly white, Illinois town. Would he be pulled over every time he drove his father-in-law's Lexus?
I remember embracing the rage of a Japanese-American woman who worked with me at a camp in Eastern Oregon when the whole burden of her childhood at Manzanar erupted in screams and tears. Whether we like it or not, acknowledge it or not, racism is an inherent part of our heritage.
Closer to home, when we moved to Canby 16 years ago I heard whispers that the reason the city kept the urban boundaries so tight was to keep land values high, "so we don't become like Woodburn."
From my experience living and working in various places in this country and two other continents I know that we are not all that different from other places. Racism is a burden and a historic limitation that damages the whole human family, and the police and the courts reflect our values.
What I see in the young people involved in the Black Lives Matter movement is a second wave of the civil rights movement that I experienced in my youth. Our sons and daughters have gotten the message that they can be free of the historic overburden foisted upon them by preceding generations. They want, even demand, that we create an inclusive culture that sets them free from these historic toxic attitudes.
Are we, the privileged and responsible generation, with them or not? In the words of Bob Dylan, "Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the halls, for he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled!"
Oregon's U.S. senators should return to state
To the editor:
It is a small thing, but I have written to Oregon's two U.S. senators and my representative, and asked them to return to Portland to speak out against the rioting, support the city and federal police, and advocate for the governor and mayor (and council) to do their jobs and end the rioting.
This rioting has nothing to do with "racial justice." It is a shame that this is not a priority for our representatives who, if anything, are encouraging this and like violence around the country, with lies about BLM, about the police, and about the president.
When your major city is burning, you should be there to stop it — and be on the right side, not the side of the rioters.
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