Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nation Badly Needs to Open Dialogue on Racism Issue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nation Badly Needs to Open Dialogue on Racism Issue

Article excerpt

I recently wrote a column about the need to follow through on

President Clinton's call for a national dialogue on racism.

A number of readers responded to that column, which is

encouraging because such a dialogue is especially needed in

Jacksonville.

Two of the letters I received provided good starting points for

the debate.

One man wrote of recently attending a family reunion in the

Deep South.

"You learn the truth about things there, where the same

families still live in the antebellum houses of their

forebears," he wrote. "In talking to the old folks, you get a

quite different picture of race relations in the Old South than

that presented by the civil rights professionals today.

"The truth is that relations between whites and blacks were not

bad in the old days and are not bad now between the rural whites

and blacks. They still treat each other with mutual respect and

consideration, in stark contrast to the modern urban scene.

"The racial hostilities and hatreds, which are so pervasive

throughout this country today, stem from the so-called civil

rights movement, and from the unrealistic expectations

engendered by it -- from the negative values taught to blacks by

it, and from all the government handouts and special privileges

accorded blacks as a result of it, at everyone else's expense.

". . . The great injustices against blacks were already

disappearing long before the advent of the civil rights

movement. In fact, the entire civil rights movement has been

based on a lie -- that blacks have been deliberately held back

by oppressive, exploitative whites, and that the pathological

behavior of blacks has been caused by whites. The truth is that

it is up to blacks, as individuals, whether they succeed or not,

and it is time they stopped blaming whites, stopped looking for

handouts, and took responsibility for their own individual

lives. …

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