Our Opinion: Fighting racism must begin at home

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Racism in America isn't confined to a few regions, states, cities or communities. The painful truth is that it can be found everywhere and must be confronted everywhere.

An ugly racial incident at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington has brought this into focus and prompted a frank discussion last Thursday at a meeting of the Multicultural BRIDGE Racial Justice Task Force (Eagle, October 8.) Racism in the Berkshires, as speakers observed, can be both transparent and hidden.

Although Berkshire County is predominantly white, the minority population is growing. That diversity is welcome, but unfortunately it will create tensions.

Some racism is overt, and as speakers testified, when directed at young people will create a sense of being isolated and unsafe — a terrible burden to grow up with. Less overt is the insular whiteness of towns and private institutions cited by Mount Everett Regional teacher Stephanie Wright that makes it difficult for minorities to affect change from positions of power.

When a black football player on the Monument Mountain team went down to one knee during the National Anthem he was reportedly threatened by another student who said he would "lynch" him and "use his body for target practice." (The school has taken disciplinary action.) The movement by professional and amateur athletes to go to one knee during the anthem in protest of the killings of black men by police is neither anti-military nor unpatriotic. In fact in America, given its heritage, peaceful protest could not be more patriotic.

The local NAACP is calling on supporters to take a knee in solidarity with the Monument athlete at the next two home football games. That is one way to confront Berkshire racism, and another way is for the majority white community to speak out against racism and refuse to tolerate it.


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