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These are time that try our souls

By Larry McDermott

Life on the farm

 

We were all motoring through life at just a tad above the speed limit when we started hitting these speed bumps. How we react and recover will set the tone for our future.

We need a 12-step program for breaking our chain of racism in our country. Step 1 is to admit it.

The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the murder of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, GA, by two white men who chased him down and shot him were revolting and brazen. The police killing of first responder Breonna Taylor in Louisville was symptomatic. All were black. Their deaths should be wake-up calls that we need to pay attention. Change. Once and for all.

So entrenched is racism in our country that many of us are in denial. “I’m not a racist” might be one of the most repeated denials today.

If you have to say that, you should wonder why. Your actions and how you conduct yourself in your daily life, whether you’re in church or having a few adult beverages with friends, speak volumes.

Instead of saying “those people” protesting were rioters and looters, we need introspection. The protests and demonstrations were not only constitutionally protected but one of the oldest American traditions we can imagine.

We know that bad people are opportunistic. They look for an opportunity to take advantage of our distraction. We all saw the videos of looters breaking windows and stealing from stores in the nation’s largest urban areas. These were mostly bad people using the smokescreen of protests to grab and run. They were lawbreakers and should have been arrested.

White people whose reaction was that Martin Luther King never used violence to protest discrimination and racism are unknowingly letting us peek under their tent flap at their soul. It is revealing if they also didn’t condemn the killings of these three.

White people who say anything about whether the murdered victims had a criminal record are showing us that they are looking for justification of the criminal behavior of police or vigilantes.

If we, living in our friendly small towns, point to the larger urban areas as housing problem people, we are refusing to be honest with ourselves.

Racism exists. Everywhere. Even among us living far from all of “that.” Our skirts are not clean.

If you are a person of color, you are immediately “not like us” and therefore less than we are. Not to be trusted. Inferior. We will smile and nod, but we don’t want you sitting in the pew next to us or being in “our” neighborhoods, restaurants, bars, parks and playgrounds.

If you think for a moment that extremist elements who arm themselves in the name of freedom, liberty or to launch the “boogaloo” are right, you are wrong. If you think your racist thoughts are not a sin in the eyes of God, you are wrong.

Let’s face the music. Racism is everywhere around us. And until we address it, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.

Larry McDermott, a retired journalist, owns a 40-acre organic farm in Rutherfordton, where he grows blueberries, keeps bees and raises horses, dairy goats, and chickens. Email: hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com or see farm happenings at www.facebook.com/hardscrabblehollowfarmllc