Community Voices (Witiak): How should Black people feel paying taxes to support racist symbols and worse? l COMMENTARY
By John Witiak
Carroll County Times|
Jul 07, 2020 at 5:00 AM
Dean Minnich’s June 25 column, “What was that about ‘graven images'?” which failed to include the name George Floyd surely speaks volumes about symbolism, Minnich and a lot of us whites in general. And what action choices Black Americans will take from here on in.
Yes, as Minnich maintains, the same object might have different meanings and carry different feelings depending on who you are and what your heritage is.
Statues celebrating the Confederacy on public, taxpayer-supported property (i.e. not an indoor museum venue or an outdoor museum, say like Gettysburg) certainly has a different meaning for a person who is Black and whose roots are from slavery and for some white person who finds being a member of the KKK appropriate.
The fact is Minnich’s lackadaisical view, as he expressed it, underlines his own blindness to his own heritage of white privilege. A lot of us who happen to be born with no or minuscule brown pigment in our skin and growing up while white have this blindness.
Lack of firm leadership among our elected officials against bigotry, town, county, state or national, will come back to bite America time and time again.
His memory about a kid bullying him when he was a kid, what did adults tell kid Minnich? The bully was just trying to gain Minnich's respect?
No! Bullying has no excuse. It must not be laughed off.
Minnich rightfully did not respect the bully's actions nor his person, not then. Unless the bully changed his behavior, not now either. And if the bully did not change his behavior as an adult, Minnich would certainly not relish having him as a grown neighbor and might even find himself having to call the police because the adult bully's bullying toward him as an adult might be against the law.
Minnich must know that freedom of speech under the U.S. Constitution has limits as it does in a crowded theater, in hate speech and in calling for violence to solve problems that can and must be solved through peaceful means in the voting booth or in peaceful protest to air grievances.
So Minnich might ask himself what a Black child might feel like when he grows up seeing public taxpayer supported property held in high regard occupied by a statue of a figure who supported the retention of slavery and far worse atrocities against Blacks.
Minnich’s not a bigot by any means, but white privilege, or at least his implicit bias, is, as he has clearly shown in his column, alive within him. As it most likely is, if we are honest, in each of us who are white.
Even as a former career journalist, editor and Carroll County commissioner who just happens to be white, he easily sloughs off the indignity Blacks must feel every time they pay taxes, part of which go to maintain and protect a symbol of support for slavery, hangings of blacks ... and more recently, the smothering to death of George Floyd.
Which goes to show that inside the mind of one of our most distinguished local senior citizens who I have always admired, white privilege and implicit bias remain fixtures that are most difficult for even Minnich himself to edit out of his own “live and let live” opinion, even in the aftermath of George Floyd’s smothering where an alleged rogue cop was almost saved from the consequences by a “live and let die” view, where not one of us would have been the wiser if the smothering had not been witnessed first hand and the image sent across America under freedom of the press.
And that, dear editor, gives all of us who are white and Black a lot to consider as each of us go forth into a new day.
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