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Racism in America – How do we get rid of it?

This opinion piece was submitted by reader Tom Messenger:

This is a long time problem, 400 years in the making.  With a 400 year head start, one wonders what we must do to end this problem.  It’s bigger than all of us but many things bear that description yet we deal with them. So where to start here?

There is no single starting point; there are many.  But as the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  At this point, that step has has already been taken, we just need to get on board and do what we can wherever we can.  Coming of age in the 60’s, we watched the Black marchers at Selma, at Little Rock, at lunch counters.  And the marchers then were primarily Black.  And they were beaten viciously simply for trying to sit at the front of the bus, or eat at a segregated lunch counter, or register for school or to vote.

There would be a few white folks marching but back then it was “their” problem.  Then the Rodney King riots.  And the Watts riots.  And on and on it went.  But finally, we could not look away when George Floyd was brutally murdered in Minneapolis.  That was the straw that broke the back of indifference.  Protests broke out across the nation and continued to go world wide.  And by ‘across the nation’, these were not limited to big cities, they occurred everywhere.

And the one shining thing that separated these protests from all of the ones in the past is that they were comprised of a diverse racial population that reflected the make up of the locations where they were held.  For the first time in memory,  white people marched along side of Blacks in large percentages.  And by ‘everywhere’, the protests even came to Quincy.  In fact, one account said one of the organizers of the Quincy protest had hoped for maybe as many as 20 or so people might attend.  This, in a town of around 2000 people.  But instead, one estimate reported as many as 250 people attended, and the vast majority of them were white.  People across this country and around the world have finally woken up to the fact that racism is everyone’s problem.

One of the main reasons it took so long to get here is that racists were tolerated.  Many whites looked on white racists with extreme revulsion but, at the end of the day, ignored it.  We now collectively know that that behavior had to change and the protest marches are a good example of that.

But in todays Plumas News website, we have a shining example of how to move forward.  FRC trustee John Sheehan has stood up for all that is good and denounced the every-day racism and sexism of one of the other trustees.  And he has been joined by other citizens who have had enough.  And this action of Mr. Sheehan is how we get rid of racism – we call it out every time it raises it’s ugly head.  Do not become complacent – this will be a long fight. But once the racists know we won’t tolerate them, we will have the upper hand.  Stand up and fight the good fight – condemn racism and anti-LGBTQ comments wherever they occur.

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