Letter to the editor: Racism must be acknowledged in order to break it
I was born in 1960. I spent my first four years in Ashland, KY. We moved to Ironton in August 1964.
My parents were good, Christian people and staunch Catholics. I never heard “the word” come from their lips, nor from the lips of anyone on either side of my family.
I didn’t need to hear words like that to understand the racism all around me. It was the way it was, and the status quo wasn’t challenged much by those of my parents’ generation.
We understood that it was “appropriate” to keep ourselves separate. We joined a private pool, where prospective members had to have three references from current members to be considered, and everyone was white.
We weren’t allowed to go past 7th Street between Spruce and Park Avenue. We weren’t told why, but we knew why. We weren’t allowed to date black guys…it wasn’t “appropriate.”
I remember a specific occurrence when I was nine or ten. It was a summer evening, and we were all outside playing, the mothers were in the yard chatting. A young black man was driving down the street in front of our house. One of the mothers said, “What does he think he’s doing here?” I didn’t understand then, but I never forgot it.
These are but a few examples that taught me about racism. I tried to teach my sons better. I believe I did. And, in turn, they’ve taught me to be better. The attitude of superiority is a hard chain to break. Our lives are structured to reinforce this culture. It is possible to break it, though. We can progress, but we first must acknowledge the problem. We all bleed red.
We need to learn. We need to understand. We need to listen. And, above all, we must examine our minds and hearts for prejudices. Deep down in our souls, we know we have them. And we know they are wrong.
Donald Johnson is 52 and works for the State of Ohio as a director of a major agency. He holds... read more