Our Readers Write: Race relations and the path forward
We asked readers for their thoughts on race relations and issues such as police brutality in light of the nationwide demonstrations following the death of George Floyd during an arrest by Minneapolis police May 25. Here are some of the responses:
Acknowledge systemic racism
It is our job to acknowledge and take the time to learn about the history of systemic racism and how the recent events fit into a pattern of inequality for black people.
It is our responsibility to listen to black voices, learn and take action.
There are many books, podcasts, movies and more that shed light on the black experience and dive into important conversations about racial equality and justice. We need solutions to affirm the prosperity of black lives.
We also need to acknowledge police brutality against black people and demand accountability. It is moving to see so many San Diegans come together in support of black lives and against police brutality.
I do believe this movement will lead to lasting change, but it is up to us to make the commitment. Black lives matter, today, tomorrow and every day after that.
Thanks for giving readers a voice.
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Listen to black Americans
I am writing this as a half-white and half-Filipino man who has not faced the discrimination that black Americans have faced for hundreds of years. I have never felt the fear that they feel. I have never gone through the pain that they have gone through. To have others harass you because of your race is an experience that I have never had.
So if you are like me and have not gone through what black Americans have gone through, remember to listen to them and their stories.
Throughout history, listening has helped make great change. Americans listened to the experiences of women and fought for the 19th Amendment in the 1920s.
Americans fought for the 40-hour work week after they listened to the experiences of laborers in the 1940s.
Listening can create a better world, and that’s what we need to do now. In 2020, we need to listen to black Americans.
If people listened to black Americans, people would hear that black Americans want to end police brutality. They do not want to fear for their lives when doing daily activities like jogging and walking on the street. They want police to protect and serve everyone rather than only protecting certain races.
They want to end the memorialization of Confederate leaders who fought for slavery and the suffering of black Americans.
They want justice for all people that police murdered.
If people listened to the black Americans, people would hear black Americans saying that there will be no peace until murderers are brought to justice. People will hear black Americans saying that the current unfair system that hurts black people needs to be fixed.
People would hear that black Americans want change.
Listen to what black Americans have to say. It is long overdue. When they tell their stories and share their experiences, you can learn the problems that the black community faces and join them in their fight for justice and equality.
I, among many others, have never had the experiences black Americans have had, so I am always ready to hear what they have to say. Listening is learning, and learning can create change.
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Institutions must refuse to tolerate hate
The current racial crisis brought back the pain of the ‘60s, when the country went up in flames over civil rights.
My late husband and I were actively involved in the movement in our hometown of Omaha, Neb., and suffered retribution and death threats, distancing from friends and a bank calling a note on my husband’s business, which was destructive.
There were some legislative changes, but discrimination continued. Real change won’t occur without elected officials, corporation executives, law enforcement agencies, education institutions and religious institutions becoming really dedicated to weed out the rules, laws, behaviors, culture of discrimination and hate in their respective venues.
You can’t change a person’s mind about their distorted beliefs without education and the refusal of government and others to tolerate hate and destruction of the lives of others different than them.
I hope I live long enough to see real change happen.
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Emphasize health and education for disadvantaged
I think that as a society we need to redouble our efforts to provide health and education to all the disadvantaged members of our society from birth to grave.
It is important to give maternal health and care before one is born, accompanied by coaching and education on nutrition of the body and the soul (mind) from birth to maturity. This means life skills in the 21st century.
Parents need to have jobs and health insurance and life skills in how to budget, prepare healthy meals on a budget, and bring up healthy and educated offspring with healthy living practices, learning skills and civic education.
This advice refers to all members of society, with a special emphasis on minorities, immigrants and economically disadvantaged members of our society.
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Choose heroes carefully
I spent my early years in a non-affluent area of Queens, N.Y. I went to public school, was in the Army and worked with people of many backgrounds, without any problems.
I then bought a business and a gun to work in Newark, N.J. Three break-ins, three hold-ups and one murder.
Based on my limited experience, people are people. Given a decent education and a chance at a decent life, no one with half a brain would choose a life of crime and being locked up for most of his life. There isn’t enough money in it.
I would like to see if any newspaper would dare print the rap sheet of some that people tried to turn into heroes.
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Create peace and justice with the Golden Rule
Prejudice, racism, sexism and discrimination … these are all issues that have plagued mankind throughout history. Our progress in resolving these issues has evolved slowly.
We try to resolve these psychological and human-nature issues with a legal approach. The legal process is essential for society, yet not sufficient for psychological and human-nature issues. Of course, we need to enact laws that now require reform to prevent people from acting badly, but it cannot legislate how people feel and think, especially by how some of us have been raised and/or become set in our ways.
Law cannot necessarily force people to respect each other and be friends, as interpersonal relationships are a psychological function, not a legal one. Psychology is supposed to be scientific, about understanding reality and figuring out how things work for making changes.
The best way to overcome racial bigotry and promote racial understanding and harmony is to start practicing the Golden Rule: “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”
Racism is a catalyst for violence, and anger is a legitimate response to oppression and discrimination. Racism is not just the result of people’s distrust in one another but more to do with economic disparity and class distinction. Simply, if you don’t feel like you’re getting a fair shake, naturally you feel resentful.
This is why it’s important we treat each other the way we want to be treated. We need to educate the youth of our nation about the inherent bias and dangers of racism becoming saturated into our world. The solution lies in reformed education of our youth, by speaking openly and being honest about our country’s history of bigotry, sexism and stereotypes.
Our history prepares our youth to challenge these issues. For example, a child who knows the racial history of the Confederate flag is less likely to brandish that symbol out of ignorance, as well as being taught the history of the hateful lynchings in the South through the 1960s and the names that were hateful terms and carried the brunt of hundreds of years of painful history.
By teaching our youth that racism is a system of oppression, and that while white people can be prejudiced against, they will learn they have never in American history experienced the long and aching pain of racism.
Ultimately, teach our youth that forgiveness and acceptance are powerful tools, but only after recognizing the ignorance and bigotry of the people they need to forgive and accept.
As residents of our community, whether you are a parent, business owner, neighbor, friend, teacher, etc., we are teachers of our youth and our actions speak louder than words.
This starts with providing the opportunity and making the time, patience and desire to help our youth grow into adults who value and honor diversity. By doing this, someday they will be able to practice what they learned and be better people for it, and at the same time, be accountable and responsible for their actions.
In my view, it will be the youth of our nation who will lead us toward racial understanding and harmony to find justice. It is up to all of us to set an example of practicing the Golden Rule and showing respect to all in order to help achieve justice.
Today, we can reflect back to when then-President Obama spoke at a service in Boston in 2013 about an 8-year-old boy who was the youngest of three people killed in the Boston Marathon bombings, who had previously made a homemade poster at school in which he wrote: “No more hurting people. Peace.”
At a young age, this boy understood what it could mean to believe in the Golden Rule … and so did this Being: “From one man, He made every nation of men” (Acts 17:26).
Mary Ann Goodbary
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What’s on YOUR mind?
Letters published in the Point Loma-OB Monthly express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the Point Loma-OB Monthly staff or publisher. Letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity and accuracy. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your name and city or neighborhood of residence to firstname.lastname@example.org.