Letter: We must learn how to talk to each other again

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As [I reflect on the tragedy of the Parkland, Fla., school shootings], several things came to my mind. First and foremost was our current president and his incessant bleating about a wall across the southern border of the U.S.; his constant drumbeating about the need to secure our borders from drug dealers, rapists and murderers coming out of Mexico to get us all.

But as a former resident of public housing in Asheville, I, along with the majority of residents who also lived there, were beset by gun violence from the few, and I stress few, of our neighbors and their friends who choose to kill and maim because of idiotic disagreements or a few dollars owed. No Mexicans were involved, to my knowledge. I’ve watched the news as schools, nightclubs, concerts and churches were attacked and people were slaughtered. All done by the hands and minds of our fellow Americans.

Somehow our country has devolved into a land that when we disagree with one another’s politics, race, gender preference or religious choice, some of us feel it’s all right to kill them. I missed the meeting when this was agreed on as a rational form of dissent. I always vote, but I never voted for this madness.

The second thing that stood out for me was that in every school shooting, at the concert in Las Vegas and the church in Texas and on and on, these were perpetrated by white men, yet not one was reported as a “white on white” crime. When there is so much fuss about how disgusting “black on black” crime is — is there some distinction between the two? I think not, yet we hear how we who are black “kill each other” often as a justification for a victim of police violence against often unarmed black people.

A fact in point is I have no animosity against the police who do their job in a lawful and professional manner. They are an asset to our community and definitely needed. I will always maintain that if America ever wants to get a handle on this death and destruction by guns, then be fair about how it’s reported. Singling out one race while tacitly giving another a “Mulligan” is patently unfair: Murder is murder, and it’s wrong whether by black men, white men or police officers. This nonsense about “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is disingenuous at best. Guns do kill people who use them to — guess what? Kill people! Guns do not shoot themselves.

We have to learn how to talk again even if we disagree. We have to be real about issues of race and see how America is losing its moral standing in the world. When I hear cries of “Make America Great Again,” my thoughts go to history. From all the thousands of books I have read, the only conclusion I can reach is America was only great before it was discovered by some white men who killed as many of the people who were here long before they came. America might have been great before these same men finished their slaughter of the indigenous people and the bison and kidnapped millions of people from their homeland in Africa to do what they obviously could not do without my ancestors.

The thanks they got was hatred, which has been passed down to me and the rest of the Americans of African descent. But I know no other land. This is my home. I have the right to live and prosper according to my works like every white man who walks this land with me. My three daughters have the same right to go to school with the children of white America without the fear of death or miseducation. I pray to the Source of All Things for sanity to reign again in this country because, as I see it, madness now rules.

— Robert White



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9 thoughts on “Letter: We must learn how to talk to each other again

  1. Stan Hawkins

    I am sort of at a loss how to respond to this, but I will give it a try. The title of your post is unless I misunderstood is “We must learn how to talk to each other again.” So, after reading this three times, I am trying to imagine myself sitting across from you in a coffee shop or similar venue and I begin to listen to what you have to say.

    What I am hearing is that you begin by wishing that we could talk to one another, unless I misunderstand.

    1. Then you commence by criticizing my President of the US.
    2. Next, you criticize something that is important to me and that is the security of our homeland with border security a part of that concern.
    3. Next, you bring race into the conversation seemingly with the purpose to bait white people in order to put them on the defensive.
    4. As a gun owner and a believer in the 2nd amendment, how would you like for me to feel as you make your gun violence comments?
    5. Next, I hear you object to slogans about “Make America Great Again” etc., some of which I might agree with. How am I supposed to react to you when you provide a rundown of how you believe that America was never great unless we imagine what the pristine land must have been like before the destruction by our founders?
    6. While listening to you as I think about my father serving in the South Pacific during WW2, landing on the sandy islands under machine gun and mortar fire to save the world from tyranny, and further listening to you describe how Americans were never great; am I supposed to keep my seat?
    7. As I listen to you describe the history of the African American and their contribution to our great nation, I know that your passion and much of what you say is true of their history. But, am I to remain silent and agree with you when you accuse me of promoting hatred into your life?

    By now, if you can imagine that coffee shop sit down, I am hopeful you can see the fallacy of your definition of “how to talk to one another.” But, I choose not to take this personally feeling sad that the equation for moving forward does not include “empathy” for every American and their particular history. It may be true that many not of your race have also experienced many sets of circumstances that would be considered a great hardship.

    When you learn about the history of others and their experiences it may enlighten you. I have an African American friend who I met in Indianapolis who described for me his growing up in his formative years in Detroit. He described to me one day of how during the race riots in the late 1960’s, his family was living in a four flat lower level apartment as gunshots and projectile objects were being hurled through the streets. His father grabbed up the children and shoved them into the cast iron bathtub on the lower level with instructions to keep their heads down. Gunshots were fired through their apartment throughout the evening. This man, about my age, grew up to be a success refusing to play the role of the victim in life. He has written books and has a public speaking business where he teaches leadership skills. I think of him often as we now live apart across the country, and I wonder what he would say.

    There is a way forward and perhaps we have yet to discover it. I can only imagine though that it will take mutual respect, empathy, love, and a willingness to lay the victim card aside. Best of luck.

    • Lulz

      Can’t talk to people who refuse to listen. Divide will only grow. until the truth is not labeled as hate speech. And that people start to accept that their own actions have more to do with their places in life than they acknowledge.

      Black continue to think they are slaves. But not of some cultural racism that’s secretly foisted upon them. But of their own mindset. Hence while they continue to sink and sputter, south of the border types who can’t even speak the language surpass them.

    • Susie-Danzen

      Well said. And I agree.
      I wouldn’t even attempt to sit across from this person and waste my breath trying to have a conversation.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    yes and the african americans do not see their absolute need to join the resistance against immigration … let’s postpone all immigration for the next 50 years like we did before!

    I have always wondered why the blacks are so complacent about it but they are … it’s their own stupidity…think of the impact they could have made to stop this uncontrolled immigration !

  3. Lulz

    Breaking news. Supreme Court nominee will probably be rejected for something that happened in high school lulz. Can’t talk to leftist who are literally ripping the country apart to gain power. Next up, any white male who wants to run for office should have a background of never talking to women. Women react when men with some sort of awareness of direction the nation is headed towards wonder why men do not even look at them anymore.

  4. Susie-Danzen

    I’ll share a truism I’ve come to learn in my life. The voices that preach tolerance and acceptance the loudest are largely the most intolerant and un-accepting of any view other than their own.

    • Big Al

      The flipside of this (according to this week’s Economist magazine) is that the most vocal “defenders of Liberty” in America today (allegedly the GOP) are in fact the greatest critics of most individual liberties.

      • Stan Hawkins

        Easy to say; do you have some examples that we can explore your basis for your statement?

      • B.E. Vickroy

        A- Re: The GOP is “the greatest critics of most individual liberties”. Would those INDIVIDUAL liberties include the right to practice your religion – even outside the walls of your home? [gasp, how hateful!]

        Though not able to read online the current Economist magazine you cite, a few articles are available wi/o cost. Several weeks of essays on “Transgender Identities” where pro-Trans verbiage is positive and anti-Trans is characterized as phobic may be a clue to the brand of “neutral journalism” practiced.

        So, based on the authority you cite to support your broad-brush indictment of an entire political party, I’m guessing that opposing males who self-identify as women, sharing a woman’s dressing room or on a woman’s sports team is the “MOST individual liberties” to which you refer.

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