Letters for February 24, 2022


The Macon County News letters page is a public forum open to a wide variety of opinions as a right guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Letters are neither accepted nor rejected based on content. Letters must be signed and contact information provided. Views expressed are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of publisher, editor or staff. Writers are asked to refrain from personal attacks against individuals or businesses. 

We must also be anti-rascist

The United States was founded on the belief that all citizens are created equal. Nonetheless, the foundation of our country commenced with the attempted mass genocide against indigenous people, depriving them of their land and cultural history. Our nation’s economic growth and development originated off of the labor of kidnapped and enslaved Africans and their descendants. Race by itself doesn’t exist biologically, but just how we interact with race has such a substantial impact on our perceptions and lives. Racist views are accepted as prevalent within our media, culture, social structures, and institutions in a society that privileges white people and “whiteness.” Racist beliefs have historically validated unequal treatment and discrimination of people of color, of which have included the mass murders of Mexican Americans at the hands of Texas Rangers during the 1940s, segregation of housing and schools during the Civil Rights Era, as well as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

While we might be led to assume that racism is solely a result of individual attitudes and behavior, racist policies often add to our polarization. But while individual decisions are harmful, discriminatory policy proposals have a far-reaching effect by jeopardizing the equity of our systems and the justice of our institutions. To achieve equality, we must commit to making unbiased decisions and being “anti-racist” in all facets of our own lives. A commitment to anti-racism manifests itself within our very own decisions. We become consciously aware of ethnicity and inequality, and we take steps to eliminate social inequities in our everyday lives, reacting to and disrupting interpersonal racism, whether blatant or subtle.

However, the concept of “color blindness” stems from the notion that ethnic and race-based distinctions must not be recognized when decisions are being made, impressions are created, and actions are to be performed. The rationale behind the idea that color blindness will deter bigotry and discrimination is simple: if individuals or organizations do not notice race, they cannot behave in a racially discriminatory manner. The allure of color blindness is that it seems to have a very straightforward basis for dealing with racial issues in contemporary culture. Despite the prevalence of this colorblind approach to race relations, recent psychological research has put its purported advantages into question. A summary of current statistical analysis suggests a simple and direct dispute: shielding our eyes to the nuances of race does not make it vanish, but it does make it more difficult to see that color blindness often introduces more challenges than it addresses.

It is not only naive and dense to suggest that bigotry does not exist and flourish in our modern society; it is also inaccurate. In March of this year, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, published a report that examined all reported hate crimes throughout 16 of America’s largest cities. It confirmed that, while such crimes declined by 7% overall in 2020, those affecting Asian residents increased by nearly 150 percent. This being directly attributable to the xenophobic prejudice associated with the Coronavirus Pandemic. As a result, the COVID–19 Hate Crimes Act was passed by Congress to combat the rise of hate crimes and brutality against Asian Americans. Its passing represents a moment of bipartisanship on a topic that has piqued broad public concern.

The argument is simple: there isn’t only one appropriate manner in which to make a difference when it comes to combating bigotry and prejudice; there are plenty. The most valuable thing we as a nation, as a society, can do is to act, and to act right now. By engaging in these types of discussions, you open the door to restoration. And it is through these types of conversations that redemption becomes concrete and meaningful, announcing for the possibility of effective change. However, it is important to recognize responsibility. Possibility without accountability is nothing more than wishful thinking.

It is not enough to just not be racist; we must also be anti-racist.

 Erick Mendez – Franklin, N.C.