Fern Ridge Review
Sweet Lorane Community News
June 4, 2020
By Pat Edwards
Words escape me. For days now, I have been trying to figure out a way to express my thoughts about the current historical events we are living through right now since George Floyd died at the hands of rogue police officers in Minneapolis. These were men who went against not only their training in law enforcement, but against all decent humanity, as well. George Floyd and others who preceded him from this time forward will symbolically represent the reasons that we, as a nation and as individuals, must evaluate our own blindness to racial prejudice and bias.
Sadly, many of my generation in Oregon and elsewhere were raised in households where one or both parents were what I refer to as “racially naive.” We went to all-white schools and never even met or interacted with anyone who was from a different race or culture. The only connection we had with Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and other non-whites was through television, movies, sports and music entertainment.
But in my childhood home, my father was a racial bigot… No, he did not spew hate or join the KKK, but as my sister and I matured, he occasionally cautioned us about not dating any non-white men. I even remember a few times when he used the “N” word when referring to blacks. I could not understand his reasoning and was confused by a father who, otherwise, was a kind, loving man who adored his daughters.
Soon, the 1960s were upon us—the book, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; the race riots; Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement… and then, later, the “Roots” miniseries. This young, naive white woman was suddenly learning so much more about the world of the racial inequality that had only been hinted at during her youth.
I’ve long believed that I have since been enlightened—able to put aside those long-ago teachings of my father. I’ve educated myself on the atrocious evils of slavery and how one group of humankind has long held prejudices against others. I honestly thought things were getting better and that we had begun to accept all colors, cultures and races as “equal,” but I realize that it will take more effort and awareness than what has been expended so far.
I’ve taken pride in my friendships regardless of color or race, but now I feel the need to dig down deeper and see if there are any remaining pieces of my upbringing that might need to be flushed out and addressed. It’s something that I think each of us must do.
All of my life, I’ve also been a strong supporter of those individuals who have put their life on the line as police officers, paramedics, firemen and women and others who serve, in order to protect us—all of us—from harm. To see that some of my long-held heroes are blemished and abuse their positions is tragic, but they are the minorities, more so than those who have always been referred to as “minorities.” These are the people who need to be weeded out and dismissed from the responsibilities associated with being our heroes.
I am warmed by the stories and photographs showing police officers around the country taking part in the peaceful protests being held. Some have quietly knelt beside the protestors to show their abhorrence of the tragedy caused by four of their brothers in blue. The protests signify a united movement by a diverse group of people to ensure that changes will be made to protect black, brown and blue lives as well as white.
We all matter equally and we must all dig out those hidden and buried bits and pieces remaining from the teachings of past generations and get rid of them, once and for all.