To the Editor:

My former dentist and his assistant would talk, disparagingly, about Hispanics and African-Americans during my visits. I’m sitting in the chair having to listen to them, unable to respond.  It drove me nuts. Finally, at what became my last appointment, the dentist used THAT word. I couldn’t believe it. I had tried to help them understand oppression, but gave up at that point. “You know, you two are racists.” They were appalled that I could call them that. “What? I’m not a racist!”

People understand that it isn’t good to be a racist. But few understand how racist they can be.

I’m a white guy. But I have always suffered with and for those who are knocked down. A racist is not just one who uses the ultimate racist word, but it is one whose pre-judgment holds people down. I may be white like you but that shouldn’t make it comfortable for you to disparage those who aren’t. You don’t know if my daughter is dating a black man; you don’t if I adopted a Latino child. You don’t know that I am offended by your ignorance.

But your racism takes on many forms: it might be an implicit bias that a person of color can’t be qualified for a senior position. Or it might be that you moved out of your neighborhood because a family that doesn’t look like you moved in. Or, you might have moved your kids out of the public school to a school that does look more like you and your kids.

Dr. Joe Roy, named the top superintendent in Pennsylvania just a few years ago, said that. The guy has courage. And he’s right. A Saucon Valley school director was offended.

Sir, you can deny it. But that denial is just yet another form of racism.

Alan L. Jennings
Executive Director
Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley
Bethlehem PA