Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

The recent massive coverage of occurrences of racism in the news may have been justified, for the most part, by several well-documented events. Racism, after all, has been adjudged by our society to be a bad thing – something shameful and disgusting. Something to be eradicated wherever and whenever it appears. The problem is – racism will only disappear in a perfect world. And this ain’t it.

As long as one person’s skin color is different from another’s – as long as one person’s heritage is different from another’s – as long as languages and backgrounds and ancestries can be judged different one from the other, there will always be a degree of racism. A sense – spoken or not – that we’re not all the same. An ever-present mental classification system noting difference.

To me, the issue is really more how we individually handle those differences. How we learn – how we adjust – how we accept. And how we reduce them to values less important than how we think of them today. Eradicate? Not likely. Understanding and acceptance? More likely.

I find many similarities to the issue of gay marriage and our recent national “get-over-it” attitude. In just a few short years, it’s become – on the one hand – more widely accepted – and on the other – less of a societal division. We entertained a lesbian couple at dinner in our home a few nights ago. The subject never came up. We never gave it a thought. And we have two new friends. May not have happened a few years back. But with understanding and acceptance – and a first-hand experience to challenge us – it’s not a dividing or defining issue around here.

As a culture, we may never abolish racism or language or individual actions that bring color and other racial differences to mind. But – like gay marriage – the issue may just become less a conscious one and less divisive as we come face-to-face with it more often as individuals. What we seem unable to do as a society, we may be more successful at individually.

Should the Bundys and the Sterlings of the world not suffer personal vilification and disgust for racist speech and thought? No. They deserve our outrage and our condemnation. But neither man will be changed by the experience. Both have long-standing histories. Shameful histories. Racism will always be alive and accepted in their lives. Unless – like Saul on the road to Damascus – they experience some sort of heavenly conversion, they’ll live out their lives unchanged. They’ll continue their racist ways.

The best we can hope for is that others – witnessing these two men embarrass themselves and become targets of condemnation – will learn from their tragic examples. That others who harbor such thoughts will have their own moments of personal – if not public – recognition that racial division is wrong. That others will be intimately involved in personal situations in which they come face-to-face with their own prejudices and learn such differences are inconsequential. One-on-one.

Abolish racism? Not likely. Personally experience, understand and accept? More likely. Become less divisive? Could be. And, in the end, that can change a nation. Or a world.

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Rainey

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Reviewing lieutenant governor candidates (Boise Statesman)
UI, WSU among 55 institutionss reviewed on sex abuse (Boise Statesman, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
WinCo construction has to be redone (Lewiston Tribune)
Pot banking still an issue (Moscow News)
Burdie-Bradbury district judge race reviewed (Moscow News)
Nampa merchants upset over road shift (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello getting semi-pro baseball (Pocatell Journal)
Cop chase leads to Blackfoot school lockdown (Pocatello Journal)
Gay Marriage suit goes to Idaho court (TF Times News)
Next round for Gooding school superintendent (TF Times News)

UO review sexual assault procedures (Eugene Register Guard)
Showers available for Ashland homeless (Ashland Tidings)
FedEx breaks ground on center (KF Herald & News)
Fine ordered on KF employer (KF Herald & News)
Douglas County will review LNG pipeline (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing local pot laws (Medford Tribune)
Scala will close Medford plant (Medford Tribune)
Jails not much doing immigration holds (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Pot dispensaries banned at Marion (Salem Statesman Journal)
May day rally at Salem (Salem Statesman Journal)

Still searching for two at Oso (Everett Herald)
Boeing says jet overhaul means lots of work (Everett Herald)
Handling radioactive material in review (Kennewick Herald)
State seeks superfund fire plan (Kennewick Herald)
WSU, UI among 55 colleges in sex abuse inquiry (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Beavers possible cause for floods at I-5 (Longview News)
Longview mudslide makes for travel issues (Longview News)
Lower Columbia College gets $845k grant (Longview News)
Grain elevator a museum piece? (Port Angeles News)
Snowpack closer to normal (Port Angeles News)
Murray announces Seattle minimum wage plan (Seattle Times)
Microsoft sets up big Vancouver BC hub (Seattle Times)
Preparing for the Bloomsday race (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma approves methanol plant at Tideflats (Tacoma News Tribune)
Supreme Court appointee Yu breaks ground (Tacome News Tribune, Yakima Herald Republic)
Tesoro oil terminal cost may rise (Vancouver Columbian)
School closure over high illness race (Vancouver Columbian)
$2m for Union Gap road project (Yakima Herald Republic)

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