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'Not Simple at All'



Consumer Reports recently printed an article about auto insurance premiums in many minority neighborhoods. Even though payout rates are no higher for these areas than for comparable white areas, blacks and other minorities must pay insurance bills that are 30 percent higher, on average, than for whites just a few miles away.

Many people in the USA believe that institutional racism is dead, that all that remains are a few reactionaries with bad attitudes. The Consumer Reports article proves this isn't true. This type of crippling financial injustice against blacks, in particular, was very prevalent until recent times.

Another example: Prison sentences for black and Latino people are longer than sentences for whites convicted of the same crimes. Almost all of us can agree that these disgraceful discrepancies must finally end.

Last week's fine, stirring piece by Thadeus Greenson and Jennifer Fumiko Cahill described the ground we stand on as steeped in the blood of people brutally sacrificed to white, nationalist myths ("#ThisIsAbsolutelyUs," Aug. 17). But their recommended fight against racism focused too much on speech and symbols, such as the Confederate flag. They seemed to think it's simple to identify hate speech and stamp it out. Get rid of that flag, too. But it's not simple at all.

Most southerners don't pair the Confederate flag with swastikas like those cretins did in Charlottesville. Many sincerely believe they have non-racist reasons to cherish it. Taking the Confederate flag down from public buildings is absolutely the right thing to do, but it's dangerous to call everyone racist who disagrees about its meaning. Nothing has only one meaning.

The same goes for "hate speech." We should be careful about what we label as hate. The speech of many people of all races falls on a continuum of political incorrectness. We need more and freer discussion instead of a clampdown. Tell me when you think I'm wrong, but don't assume I'm racist.

Martha Walden, Bayside

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