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Racists Among Us

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Editor:

I would like to give my deepest condolences to the mother of David Josiah Lawson ("What Now?" May 4). As a mother, I feel the outrage at senseless violence taking the life of her son in his prime.

I am white and I have friends of many races. There is a lot of mixing in Arcata and there are many people, both black and white, who are not racist and, matter of fact, they enjoy each other's differences. 

But I would like to encourage the black community to protect itself. There are cruel and ignorant people of every color. Humboldt County has an old and long history of racism. There is a good-old-boy mentality mixed in with the open-minded, hip people. Many of the white families who have lived here for generations feel invaded by not only hippies but by people of color. They are not greeting change with open arms or open minds. They feel themselves slipping into a minority within the community. The college as well as the marijuana industry have attracted people with different view points to the area. The old "white is right" is falling away into a more cosmopolitan viewpoint. When people feel their world changing beyond their control, there can be a lashing out at an obvious scapegoat. 

So, please, for your mothers' sake, steer clear of chaotic, unsupervised situations with a lot of white people. And if so, choose non-confrontation and escape rather than in-your-face power struggles. Changing inequality is a long-term job. Racism dissipates when parents and teachers talk openly and candidly about the effects of racist attitudes and institutional prejudice, and when people have positive contact with other people of different races. So let this not deter us from reaching across lines of race to see each other for who we are on the inside. 

Jennifer Bishop, Arcata

Editor:

Was David's death and the sad manner in which the emergency response team handled everything race related? Of course it was! "White" people created the concept of race and then pretend like they are colorblind. The local media painted a good picture of the suspect and frequently used the word "allegedly," but if the suspect were black the narrative would be different and he surely wouldn't be released from jail to await trial while more evidence was being collected on a pending investigation.

This system (which favors "whites") is flawed. My son was nearly punished as if he had committed the ultimate crime for simply having brass knuckles and displaying them. Threats of removing him from my custody and placing him as a ward of the court until age 21 was the impending punishment for his "crime." He was charged with a felony and his offense was labeled "very serious." He is black, so I have no shadow of a doubt that he was going be given the harshest punishment. The person pressing charges boasted to me about how her white mother taught her how to work the system.

And the nerve of the Arcata chief of police to spout that fairness crap and feel like his officers are being demonized. I know from personal experience that officers see our kind as bad or threatening and the smallest of crimes gets serious charges when it's a black person committing the crime. It's becoming clearer with each passing day that racists are here in Humboldt County, and they don't want our kind here. Just like a local commented on social media that our kind can go to all sorts of good schools where we come from, why even come to Humboldt?! So what now?

Shonquinta Jones, Arcata

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