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Letter to the Editor: Racism still permeates society

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

We want to respond to the letter published in the Telegram on Sunday, Aug. 4, titled “Your race card has been declined.”

Like the writer, we are white women. Unlike the writer, we believe that racism continues to permeate society.

We know this is true as we read and watch the news and see and hear the vitriol spoken by powerful and influential people about both ethnic and religious minorities.

But on a more personal level, we know this is true from the stories being told to us by our African-American friends.

We have each been fortunate to enjoy friendships with people with black and brown skin. Until recently, those friendships had not involved talking about race. We tended to talk about kids, sports, work — the things we had in common. In January, we began intentionally talking with these friends about race and religion. We meet regularly specifically to do that. We now have a different perspective and continue to learn and try to understand what is happening in our nation as it pertains to race. Racism and white privilege are alive and well.

We’ve heard stories of being followed in stores. The story shared by one friend of working hard to buy a home in a middle-class neighborhood and then having the police called when her husband went for a walk soon after they moved in. The story of a child being told by another child that she cannot play with her because she is black. The heart-wrenching stories of how parents have had to warn and terrify their sons about how to behave if they get stopped by police. The story of being asked to help find a “qualified and responsible minority” for a board of directors.

We continue to enjoy privileges because we have white skin. When we are weary of hearing racist statements or about racist acts, we can tune out the media and return to our own comfortable world. Minorities live in a world where they never know when racism will raise its ugly head. They cannot turn it off.

As white women who have spent hours talking about this topic with actual women who are not white, we wanted to offer our opinion. We highly encourage others to try having meaningful discussions with people of color about racism.

Start slow, be kind. And listen.

Wendy Wilson

Rocky Mount

Liz Lord

Momeyer

Rev. Elizabeth Edwards

Rocky Mount

Jenny White

Cary