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Letter: When it comes to the past, we blew it

Our City Council meetings offer the struggle we have with democracy, the pain we have with engagement and the times we have with our past. Being one of those who studied American history before we were told that African Americans played any role in our history, I am appalled that when I finally learned of their incredible input into who I am as a person, I am appalled to see that we cannot just admit it — we (yes, those in the past and today) all need to say we have blown it.

We have consciously (or unconsciously) not recognized the pain our black brothers and sisters continue to feel and experience in our society. They continue to live in fear, they continue to feel “less than” those of us who are white. I don’t have any words in my vocabulary to express my astonishment that our elected officials cannot simply apologize for the atrocities of lynching.

We still have lynching in our communities. We just don’t call it lynching. Blacks shot in the back, children dragged out of class by white police, the haunting image of a black man being choked to death by police officers. Lynching today is mental, spiritual and emotional. We lynch when we disrespect. We lynch when we ignore. We lynch when we are ashamed of our past and fail to put it in words.

We have no calluses on our knees, because we haven’t spent time asking forgiveness for our past. Please, please, please remember where we came from. It is not a clean past, and sometimes we need to hear the raw, ugly, embarrassing truth.

We owe it to our black brothers and sisters to treat them as human beings. Watering down yesterday will not assist us today in being human to everyone.

— Kim Porter




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