Let’s Find A Solution To Bigotry

I’ve told the story many times, but it seems appropriate to repeat:

Several years ago, I was standing in line at a bank walk-up window. I noticed a sign advising patrons the bank would be closed the following Monday, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The man in front of me finished his transaction, turned around, looked at me and gestured to the sign. “Just another n—–,” he pronounced. He hurried away before I could overcome my shock and say something to him.

So yes, bigotry still does exist in our community. I really don’t think it’s in the hearts and minds of many people, but it does exist.

Let’s get that out of the way.

During a community discussion of the problem last week at the Wheeling YWCA, there were lots of anecdotes about the existence of racism in our area. Very little seems to have been said about what can be done about it.

Very little, in some respects. The villain in my story appeared to be in his 60s. He isn’t going to change.

Neither are many parents who pass their bigotry down to the children. We know attitudes held by parents frequently are adopted by their sons and daughters.

It’s a vicious cycle.

I’ve been warned that I should not suggest we talk less about the existence of racism and more about what can be done about it. That might be misconstrued by some as an attempt to cover up the problem, I was told.

Well, yes. And that’s part of the challenge. As was pointed out during the YWCA event, we need to stop worrying about being politically incorrect.

But we do need to talk more about how to address the problem. Recognizing it is easy. Solving it is hard.

What works? Educating our children, obviously. Making little Johnny understand that classmate Sally may have a different skin color but is, well, just another kid.

But what’s the most effective way of doing that? Do we know — I mean, really know? Is there a community somewhere that has found the magic wand and has results to prove it?

We can spend tons of money and effort making ourselves feel like we’re doing something without really accomplishing much.

Racism is too serious to drop at that. We shouldn’t just be patting ourselves on the back for admitting there’s a problem. We need to find a way to deal with it.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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