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Racial Justice In America Is Long Overdue

To The Reader’s Forum:

On Sunday, June 7, 2020, Linda and I attended a Black Lives Matter rally at Dow Park. Many years have passed since we attended a local gathering to promote a social justice cause. Except this time was different, not only because of the potential adverse impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but because of the cause. We’ve supported anti-hunger efforts, environmental efforts, anti-war efforts and promoted the plight of people abroad, but we hadn’t really done much about the plight of black people in America in spite of how enlightened we consider ourselves. Thanks to organizers!

Yup, we are “privileged” white people who say we are “color blind”, and pledge not to do harm to others, but we haven’t done the hard work of talking and doing something about racism. The sadness of racial injustice is that it is due to the unfair, and deadly treatment of real people; people with names, lives and hopes just like our own. There is a saying that “ignorance is bliss”, but the reality is that “ignorance is complicity”. It’s time to break down our wall of ignorance about racism.

I want to whole-heartedly thank “Isaiah” and “Janet”, people I had never met before, who, at the rally, agreed to sign their names on my arm. They could have ignored me, but they didn’t. I wanted to take “someone” home from the rally, not just something like a t-shirt and sign. I say their names every day to remind me of their humanity and what Black Lives Matter means.

We should also remember Trayvon Martin, Yvette Smith, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tanish Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Jerame Reid, Natasha McKenna, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, William Chapman, Sandra Bland, Darrius Stewart, Samuel Dubose, Janet Wilson, Calin Roquemore, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Joseph Mann, Terence Crutcher, Chad Robertson, Jordan Edwards, Aaron Bailey, Stephon Clark, Danny Ray Thomas, Antwon Rose, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Dean, Ahmud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. (Thanks to TIME magazine.) These are names of only a handful of people who died because of racially-motivated violence in America.

All lives will matter when Black Lives Matter. Whites have 400 years of racial injustice experience to draw from. It’s not up to blacks to tell whites what to do — actions should be obvious to hearts and eyes wide open. Racial justice in America is long overdue.

Paul L. Demler

Jamestown

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