Tuesday reader’s view: No standing in race conversation

Tuesday reader’s view: No standing in race conversation

Mr. Chris Stevens, the religious person in me wants to forgive your shallow and heartless diatribe on Sunday, August 25 as merely misguided and ill-informed. But, the realist in me hears the voice of the bigot, the snap of the overseers’ whip and the angry shout of whites claiming righteous indignation when the target of their oppression dares to advocate for equality. Your editorial exhibits a shocking and remarkable vacancy of knowledge of the black experience in this country and in American history.

How dare you, the beneficiary of much privilege in this country, equate any paltry response in retaliation for the Zimmerman travesty with the countless examples of white racism perpetrated over centuries. You are obviously an educated man, but apparently have not availed yourself of African American history courses or any of the many informative books detailing the unique actions of white racism in this country. Sadly, the fact that you use your position to spew such malicious trash on readers in this community displays an unwillingness to learn about our history of racial cleansings, pernicious economic and social violence against blacks and ongoing systemic efforts to impoverish and dehumanize people of color and the poor. Recent efforts installing dictatorial emergency managers have targeted mostly black communities, and state governments passing voting rights restrictions to resolve non-existent fraud but clearly aimed at poor people and students, are just two examples of current deliberate attempts to disenfranchise blacks from the American dream that you so easily take for granted.

The common ground you call for starts with you, and all whites, educating themselves about the black experience in the United States. The common ground you seek starts when you learn about our history of violence against blacks, our history of legal repression of blacks and our ongoing social and economic assault on blacks in this country. The common ground you call for starts when you accept your complicity in accepting the largess of white racism through the accident of your birth and recognize the vastly unlevel playing field we live on. Until you accomplish this, you have absolutely no standing in this conversation.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, all people of good will and believers in social equality remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his commitment to nonviolence. But, violence is not just about hitting someone with a fist. Violence is also persistently paying people low wages, restricting access to affordable health care, underfunding public schools, providing little of no access to avenues of social mobility readily available to others and supporting a separate and not-equal justice system. If you want to trot out your handful of examples of violence, then you must be prepared to answer for the wave after tsunami wave of violence perpetrated on blacks in this country by whites for the past three centuries. Once you are prepared to undertake that work, then and only then, will you understand that you have no claim to victimization. Then and only then will your heart be tempered with the humility and compassion needed to serve, honor and respect the true victims of racism.