2021 was a year of awakening for me. I learned of more serious racial atrocities than any time in my life. Previously I mentioned some examples. In the summer of 1919, within my parent’s lifetime, 20 major race riots occurred. Three hundred miles north of my hometown, a mob of 5000 whites set fire to the court house, looted stores and lynched a black man. They even attempted to hang the white mayor.

Two years later 100 miles from my home town, the Tulsa Massacre occurred. A black community did all the right things to live the American Dream; built businesses, homes, churches, a prosperous community.  At the time, the Greenwood community was the wealthiest black community in America. When the smoke cleared, 35 square blocks were leveled, 10,000 blacks were homeless, 800 injured and 6000 interned. Estimates range from 75 to 300 killed. Tulsa is current researching for bodies and attempting to determine how many died.

Events that powerful leave scars. My learning of these atrocities within my parent’s lifetime hit close to home. This week my awakening hit home.

I have openly shared my joy of having been blessed with positive, meaningful racial experiences in my high school years. I was particularly blessed to work at a public golf course and make the friendship of Linwood Sexton, a pioneer in racial equality in my hometown.

However, I am chagrined by my naivete. This week CBS reported one of the first successful student sit-ins was at Dockum Drugs in Wichita, Kansas in 1958. This was my hometown, during my sophomore year. At the same time I was serving Blacks with no thought of prejudice at the golf course they were being denied service in another location. I had no idea Blacks were not served in any part of my hometown.

Interestingly the Wikipedia report makes it sound like Blacks were denied service and access to all public services in Wichita. I can attest to the fact that they were allowed to play golf at a public course and given service by yours truly.

An important observation to me is that Blacks in Wichita acted in a way that led to change. They had a sit-in until they were finally served. Being made aware of prejudice and the many ugly outcomes of injustice is important, but just pointing out the problems does not lead to change.

A friend sent me a write -up about Kaylin Hill, a football player for Mississippi State. Kaylin took a stance; change the flag for the state of Mississippi or he would not play for Mississippi State. His actions were important and greatly contributed to the movement to remove the Confederate symbol from the flag. It was not without consequences. He and his family were subjected to derogatory racial actions. 

The friend asked a good question, “what is next for Hill?” I responded an NFL career. His response was Colin Kaepernick, implying people who protest are not likely to get jobs in the NFL. I see a big difference between Hill and Kaepernick and it has nothing to do with the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the protests by either man.

The big difference is the focus. Just as with the sit-in in Wichita, the protest of the Mississippi state flag was narrow with a measurable outcome. Either the flag was changed or not. When it was changed the protest was a success. Kaepernick is protesting racial injustice, a worthwhile endeavor, but the focus is much broader. In my opinion the narrow focus with appropriate success will not prevent Hill from being drafted. We need more focused peaceful protests with measurable outcomes.

Another reader sent me an introduction to Thomas Sowell on U-Tube.

If you are a liberal and think all conservatives are thoughtless, mindless white supremacists, Thomas Sowell is a good person for you to read or listen too. You may disagree with him but you will not be able to claim he is thoughtless. I disagree with him about some things but I would be delighted to engage in discourse with him. I find him to be brilliant, humble and thoughtful. In my attempt to read and understand liberal and conservative thought, he is one of the conservatives I find to be very insightful. I recommend his work.

Peace,

Jerry


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