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Letter to the Editor: Racial understanding still elusive

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Not so long ago it would not have been unreasonable to view racism as a smoldering ember, but today that ember has again been reignited.

The mere mention of the word racism brings on an onslaught of denials and finger-pointing from those who apparently feel they are judge and jury. Racism is ingrained in this country’s fabric at every level and injects itself into everyday decision-making that may or may not spark unconscious biases. No matter how you slice it or dice it, racism is real, it exists and it is not a figment of the imagination.

As a person of color, longevity has exposed me to all kinds of racism. I know it when I see or hear it and I do not need an interpreter. Indeed, my upbringing has served me well. It has been the foundation on which I have persevered even in the worst of times. Over the years, in my effort to rise above talk, I have participated in initiatives intended to help bring about tolerance and understanding of the views and life experiences of others.

I would like to think my 12-year membership on the Human Relations Committee was meaningful. I participated in Common Ground Study Circles and the Visions 2000 Strategic Planning initiative. Both initiatives were unsuccessful in purpose. Unfortunately, the Common Ground Study Circles lacked the interest and participation from the business community, clergy, educational sector and lifetime residents to be of value. The overwhelming majority of people who participated in these study circles were retired returnees and people who had relocated for employment which limited the exchange of life experiences.

This town, like so many others in this country, appears to have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo when it comes to bridging the racial divide. We hear a lot of talk about working together but it’s just that, talk. To my knowledge, there appears to be no interest on the part of anyone or any group to pick up the baton and organize a coalition to initiate ongoing frank and honest community dialogue that would promote racial tolerance and understanding that leads to improved race relations.

In words of truth, James Baldwin said “not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Gardenia B. Hobbs

Rocky Mount

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