Editorial: To address racism, we must acknwledge that it exists

  • Tuesday, August 11, 2020 5:21pm
  • Opinion

In her letter to the editor, located below on this page, Coupeville resident Christine Laing says, “To get rid of racism, we need first identify it, and call it out when we see it.”

She is also critical of my decision to publish letters that contain statements offensive to minorities, black people in particular.

It is, she argues, the newspaper’s responsibility to squelch such discrimination.

I would argue that Christine Laing and I are entirely in agreement that we need to identify racism to eliminate it.

We differ in how to approach the issue.

When the Black Lives Matter movement was starting to rise nationwide, just before protests reached Oak Harbor and the rest of Whidbey Island, we took the position as a newspaper that our community leaders should take the opportunity to look within, have candid conversations and see what they could do to help to eliminate systemic racism.

Members of the Langley City Council did just that, much to their credit.

In response to our suggestion that communities look inward, we received letters to the editor maintaining that systemic racism no longer exists. One letter writer said systemic racism “faded” long ago.

Well, no, it didn’t, but the fact that people in our community believe differently tells us exactly why we need to have an open and honest community discussion.

And that is why I include letters to the editor that may offend. Systemic racism is allowed to fester and grow in the shadows. I grew up believing that, as a country, we had gotten better. The death of George Floyd revealed otherwise.

In order to call out racism, we have to first acknowledge that it exists. Only then can we identify it, and then we can call it out. We don’t have the luxury of just shaking our heads and chalking it all up to generational differences, or the “salty tongue” of a friend, neighbor or relative.

As uncomfortable as the discourse may be, to pretend racist beliefs aren’t embedded in the fabric of our community is to blissfully deny the truth. If a letter to the editor makes you mad, maybe that’s because it should.

If a letter spurs a person, or a community, to take action — to do better — so much the better.

Keven R. Graves is executive editor and publisher of the Whidbey News Group. He can be reached by email at kgraves@whidbeynewsgroup.com

More in Opinion

Sound Off: Rethinking proposed bans on natural gas

By Don Brunell Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Disputes unmask extent of misinformation, confusion about face coverings

Together with social distancing, donning a face covering is proven to be… Continue reading

Sound Off: State’s military, economy rely on Super Hornet funding

Washington state is an important state for our country’s Armed Services and… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: History of Whidbey Island law enforcement is one of reform

Whidbey Island residents are lucky to have the professionally run law enforcement… Continue reading

Sound Off: Climate on the agenda this year; carbon tax should be too

A few weeks into the new administration, the federal government is off… Continue reading

Smaller, safer nuclear reactors in works for Hanford reservation

It isn’t often we hear good news from the Hanford, but the… Continue reading

Sound Off: Workshop a chance to learn about racist societal structures

As our nation struggles with current and past racial injustices, it is… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Deer Lagoon Grange’s membership should be open to all

The Deer Lagoon Grange has become an unlikely focal point in the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Seek public input, avoid consultants in spending stimulus money

It appears that government officials on Whidbey will have a lot of… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Central Whidbey location is right for homeless shelter

Since 2017, the Haven has offered a warm, safe place to sleep… Continue reading

Sound Off: Working to strengthen WhidbeyHealth’s financial position

The declaration of a global pandemic was made just over a year… Continue reading

From the Publisher: Times are changing, and so is our mode of newspaper delivery

When you’re nearly 130 years old, you have to adapt to the… Continue reading