Systemic racism is a fact
To the editor:
As a woman of color I find condescending the assertion that “…the overwhelming majority of Americans … go to extreme lengths to treat other-skinned people with as much respect and consideration as possible.” Who does Mr. Thom consider “other skinned people?” Skin color has never been the sole reason for discrimination, but he considers it of primary importance. So where in the vast pallet of skin colors does someone cease to be like him? Furthermore, I do not expect anybody to make an effort to treat me with respect or consideration; I don’t believe that all individuals deserve respect or consideration. What I am entitled to is to be treated fairly and equitably, to be afforded the same opportunities, and to be judged on my own merits. Most important, there should be universal acknowledgement that my life matters as much as everybody else’s.
He cites many facts to illustrate that our country has gone to great lengths to get rid of racism. The Civil War was not based solely on stopping the immorality of slavery; it was mostly fought over state rights and taxation. Civil rights legislation was enacted only after a long time of atrocities and discrimination, because Black people had had enough, and leaders like Martin Luther King and John Lewis fought for their rights.
Systemic racism is not a loaded term, propaganda, or an accusation; it is a statement of fact. It is reality for people of color and other minorities. It is the existence of white privilege and unfairness. There are hundreds of examples, but to name a few: voter disenfranchisement, inequality in court sentences and disparities in health care.
The need to address the inequalities and injustices in the system does not mean that we want to dismantle institutions; it means that they need to be reformed. Perhaps we do need a revolution, which is sometimes necessary for a society to evolve. But sometimes they are simply new ways of thinking. Our forefathers saw the need for the American Revolution, which dictated violence. But the mostly non-violent Industrial Revolution also improved the lives of people throughout the world.
No, not all Americans are racist, but racism is alive and well in America. Mr. Thom claims that America is not racist, but also says that we will never succeed in eradicating racism. In essence, that the principles this nation espouses and on which the Constitution is based will never be achieved; that America, “the great experiment” has failed. I’m surprised he doesn’t think even the Christian values he champions are enough to achieve the goal of an equitable society.
I sure hope America is better than this.