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White people have an obligation to address oppression of blacks | READER COMMENTARY

Protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge as part of a solidarity rally calling for justice over the death of George Floyd, and to highlight police brutality nationwide, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
Protesters march across the Brooklyn Bridge as part of a solidarity rally calling for justice over the death of George Floyd, and to highlight police brutality nationwide, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Over the past weeks we are witnessing the tragedy of George Floyd’s death morph into a larger reality that has unleashed a torrent of repressed anger among many individuals, black, brown and white (“Statue of Jefferson Davis, leader of the Confederacy, torn down in Richmond as other Confederate monuments targeted,” June 11).

America’s history has shown repeatedly that political change only comes if the oppressed rise up, march and demand it, and the dominant leadership allows it to happen. It took women until 1920 to rise up, march and demand the right to vote and generate enough white male leadership to agree to share power with women. In the 1960s, blacks won the release from Jim Crow laws because black people rose up, marched and demanded equal rights. Only after the TV scenes of police violently attacking peaceful marchers with batons, vicious dogs and fire hoses and seeing the charred remains of a bombed church where four young girls were murdered, did the mostly white male leadership in Washington, D.C., vote to grant blacks full citizenship.

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The reality is that ordinary white people, like many of you and me, hold the power to end racial violence and build a culture free from institutional racism. How? By taking one step at a time, by taking one small action each day.

What action can you take? If you are able join a march, make a sign, talk with a neighbor or friend about what values are important to you. Educate yourself about what is happening politically, seek out media sources that aim to stimulate thinking rather than just repeat hate and require blind faith. Learn more about white privilege. Write letters to local newspapers in support of Black Lives Matter and your local NAACP. Contact your local, state and national elected leaders and share your insistence that policing reforms get passed. Get more involved.

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There are 26 boards in Annapolis that are filled by interested citizens, 40 such boards in Anne Arundel County. Pay attention to the additional educational challenges the coronavirus pandemic poses for students struggling with distance learning in homes without computers and/or reliable internet connections. Connect with organizations like Anne Arundel Connecting Together that are working to ensure every student has an equal learning opportunity and they need assistance. Register and vote!

The time for silence is long past. In 2020, if you are not part of the solution, you really are then part of the problem.

Don Patterson, Arnold

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

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