Letter: Passivity, avoidance compound pain of racism

Passivity, avoidance compound pain of racism

To the editor:

Social media was apparently "incredulous" about the lynching threat at Monument Mountain Regional High School. A Monument administrator said the number of such incidents can be counted on one hand. It takes more than one hand to count racist incidents targeting my biracial sons while at Monument. According to Multicultural BRIDGE's director, it receives calls all the time from kids who've been called brown, dirty, the N-word.

I applaud support for the football player when he took a knee during the national anthem. I also hope those for whom the flag stands for freedom try to learn why the flag may not symbolize freedom for many black people.

This incident rekindles the pain and anger I experienced after one particular verbal assault against my son on the soccer field in 2013, when it took many months, and my calling the Anti-Defamation League, to get Monument administration to arrange a meeting with the offending player's school. Monument folks were good-hearted, active listeners, and genuinely cared about my son. Unfortunately, they missed many opportunities to act bravely on behalf of students of color.

The passivity and avoidance almost hurt more than the incident. A mother whose daughter was threatened with lynching at a Boston school asked, "How could this incident have happened and the school not reach out to us? It's not just the fact that he said it and threatened her life, but it is the inaction of the people in power." My husband and I were not contacted by the school nor the coach after the verbal assault. I reached out to them.

I also requested that Monument engage and educate not just students but parents, coaches, and athletic league representatives (offensive behavior often erupts around sports) to turn this incident into an ongoing learning opportunity. Aren't these opportunities perhaps the most important way we have to educate ourselves and our children, to nurture the love and dissolve the hate, whether against blacks, gays, Jews, immigrants, any targeted group? Knowing your community has your back makes all the difference.

When I asked my son what he wanted from Monument following that incident, he said, "to make sure it doesn't happen again." I'm grateful that Monument is now trying to dig deep. And I'm so grateful that my sons love being black, thanks to their dad, and to the beautiful black people and white people in their lives.

Anne Ghitman, Sheffield


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