Continuing the Conversation – Cashmere Valley Record

Posted: August 27, 2020 at 3:52 am

without comments

Last week I had the opportunity to read your opinion piece, We need to have a conversation-about race from the July 1st paper. As the title suggests, I would like to continue the conversation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the Wenatchee Valley on your perspective regarding racism in the past and with current events. As mindful readers often do, I read your article a few times thinking about the overall message you wanted your readers to take away, the reasoning supporting your claims, and some wonderings that have stayed with me.

You mentioned the Rev. James David Manning and quoted him, Black people have to knock that chip off their shouldernobody can say anything about Black people publicly without being called a racist and a bigot. My first wondering was about your relationship with Rev. Manning. I was curious to know more about him so I did some research and found many articles, including one from the Huff Post. He sounds like a very involved Black man within his church, school, and society. How long have you known Rev. Manning? Was the quote you shared from a personal conversation you had with him regarding race? I thought it was interesting to read about some of his other opinions, including education. I wonder why you didnt share with your readers his involvement with his school and locking up students, teaching kids to hate gay people, and convincing parents to abandon their children? While these topics dont necessarily have to do with race, I do think it is important that one voice does not speak to the narrative for all. As a white woman, I am not a representative of all white people. Likewise, the Rev. James David Manning is not the one voice for all Black people.

I am also curious about your claim that Black people create problems by their own bad behavior. What do you define as bad behavior? Everyone exhibits bad behavior from time to time. Yet, why is it that as a white person, if I am pulled over by the police (which has happened a few times) I am always given a chance to speak, ask for clarification, or admit to my bad behavior without fear? Why does being Black mean one must Allow the arresting officers to take them into custody peacefully even if they have not committed any crime?

You mentioned that in present society, Black people are no longer being shut out of equal opportunities by referencing the West Point graduation and how every race and gender were represented. Yet you did not provide any statistics. Graduates of West Point themselves are acknowledging there is systemic racism and havewritten a proposal to the West Point Leadership asking for an antiracist West Point. When I think of this representation, I picture the same number of white graduates and graduates of color. To me, equal representation means equal opportunities. I am curious how stating the graduates represented every race and gender supports the idea that Institutional Racism is no longer relevant? You mentioned that, We honor those who have achieved success through hard work and honesty. How does the comparison of pay for Black and white men with the same experience and education doing the same job in the same geographic location fit into this claim? Black people who work hard and achieve success do not benefit equally.

As a white woman, I know I will never understand what it is like to be a person of color. I can, however, try to educate myself in the uncomfortable concepts such as prejudice, discrimination, racism, and oppression and my part in them. I have read the definition of racism in many sources. In Robin DiAngelos book, What Does it Mean to Be White? she writes, Racism is more than race prejudice. Anyone across any race can have prejudice. But racism is a macro-level social system that whites control and use to the advantage of whites as a group. Thus, all whites are collectively implicated in this system.

I did not choose to be born into a systemic racist society, but I do know I benefit in many ways because I am white. I think it is time to listen to people of color and not dismiss their challenges. How can ones personal experience be misguided? People of color are not thugs or bad boys and girls who are driving this false agenda. They are our fellow doctors, teachers, nurses, baristas, engineers, scientists, architects, UPS drivers, chefs, hair stylists, dentists, construction workers, etc. who have their own stories, narratives, and experiences. Whether I agree with their means of protest or not, it is time for a change in our society. These protests would not be happening if society was indeed equal. In my opinion, the loss of material things is not equal to the loss of lives.

I believe it is important to participate in a dialogue between people where we can listen, learn, and reflect. Sometimes that means accepting discomfort and non-closure. It also means that I may not always agree with what is being shared based on my own experiences. I know my experiences limit me and my understanding. Instead of focusing on the disagreement I listen to try to understand how my ideas, behaviors, or the system is problematic. As a white woman and ally, it is my responsibility to allow my thoughts and ideas to change based on what I learn about the world and the experiences of others.

Thank you for opening the conversation.

Daveen Cordell

Seattle (Former Cashmere High School Graduate

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Continuing the Conversation - Cashmere Valley Record

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August 27th, 2020 at 3:52 am

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