To the Editor,
Thank you for your recent opinion column, “We’ve Been Here Before”. It is forever impossible for me to see the name Emmett Till without shuddering at the the thought of the hatred and inconceivable brutality surrounding his murder.
I replay the scenes from “Mississippi Burning” in my mind as you cite the Klan’s murders of those civil rights workers. But to some these may simply seem like distant historical events: years like 1955, 1963, 1964, reading like lines in a text book. The Klan’s hate crimes are frequently viewed as unsurprising in the south. Are we dismissive of these tragedies along with George Floyd’s death as news events that happen somewhere else? Or do they hopefully awaken us to take a local and personal inventory? Do we more closely and honestly examine the pervasive thread of racism that runs deep in our own communities? Or do we quickly turn a blind eye of indifference deciding these injustices have no impact on our lives?
Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous words are recently garnering retweets:
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
His oft-quoted words grip me when I read them in today’s context. I start to ask myself questions. I start to scrutinize my actions. Do I speak up when I hear racist comments locally or do I avoid confrontation? Does my passivity contribute to injustice and modern day segregation? Did I do enough when the boys walking from PATCO to my son’s graduation party were questioned by nearby residents who they were and where they were going?
Am I a “silent friend?”