Aug. 19 2015 11:47 AM

Our readers tell us what they think

lettersforweb

AARYN BELFER WENT VIRAL

Thank you for saying what might not otherwise have been heard from a person of color ["A white person's guide to activism," July 22]. I am sure a lot of people stopped reading when they figured out where you were headed, but for those who do want to help, it helps! As a person of color, and an educator, it's often difficult to see what goes on and act like it will all shake itself out somehow. What amazes me is that my college and high school friends cannot accept that I don't or didn't have every opportunity they had. Incredible. Yours is one of the columns I read CityBeat for, and I was not disappointed! Thank you for putting it out there, again, and for being honest. Much appreciated!

I hope you get more positive than negative feedback.

Jeffrey Jones, North County San Diego


MORE BELFER

I am in accord with ["A white person's guide to activism," July 22] and appreciate the clarity [Aaryn Belfer] brings to your community. This issue of me, my people, black and brown people being hunted and killed by the Police State is and should be of great concern to my white sisters and brothers. This systemic annihilation of us and the others is unconscionable and it frays the fabric of a nation supposedly built on fair just equity for all.

I stand in solidarity.

Edali Pollard, Los Angeles


DISAGREES WITH BELFER

In response to Aaryn Belfer's column offering whites a guide to racial activism, I have this: First off, I totally disagree we should "skip the sunshiny lie of colorblindness." Really? Why? Because it is wrong, or simply challenging to achieve? Nobody ever said it would be easy. But taking each individual on their own terms without regard to ethnicity is still a goal worth pursuing. My identity is based on my individuality, not the ethnic group I happened to be born into by accident of birth.

If we took Belfer's advice, society would move more toward racial balkanization, than reconciliation. Yes, "Black Lives Matter," but we have now reached the point in time where Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley can be booed at the "progressive" Netroots convention for saying, "All lives matter." Shameful and illiberal.

In Belfer's #11 suggestion for activism, she says "don't take the mic" at rallies if you are white. So, our skin color should determine when and where we can practice free speech? Have we really reached this point? We all need to take a deep breath and recognize that true racial progress will be made when we all face each other as equal individuals and find the uniqueness in each, and not as members of man-made ethnic categories.

Aaron De Groot, Mission Hills


MORE DISAGREEMENT

I think [Aaryn Belfer] is giving people very bad advice. From what I've heard Sandra Bland appeared to be an interrupter, an activist, in your words. And she's dead, in part, because of it. Don't you think it would have been better if she had just put out the cigarette, respectfully handed the officer her license and registration, accepted the ticket and gone on her way to her new job? But no, she had to be an interrupter. And now she's dead. And you're encouraging others to do the same thing? I hope your advice doesn't result in someone else behaving like a martyr and dying because of it, all because you want to be perceived as a great moral crusader. That would be tragic. Food for thought, I hope.

Brendan Harkin, Franklin, TN


APPRECIATION

A Facebook friend shared [Aaryn Belfer's] article on my timeline and I just wanted to reach out to you and say I appreciate what she has written. Like that Anne Braden quote, by the way. I have always been a cynic I suppose; especially when it comes to race relations. As an African-American male I have had to deconstruct and dissect my own issues when it comes to race in America and what it would really take to eradicate it. Sadly, I am not optimistic. Racism is often seen as just a "black" issue, never about white supremacy or privilege, which creates entitlement. And what incentive do whites have to really deal with their miseducation that feeds this entitlement? I am aware of the inherent contempt America historically has for black people, and when I actually sit down and marinate on this fact, it forces me to acknowledge my pain. Oops...I am ranting here. I digress (smile). It's always nice to hear a white person who seems to have a clue. I hope more whites have your courage to speak out and address other white folk and stand on principle...understanding that they will pay a price if they do.

Julian P. Pryer, Philadelphia, PA


A HISTORY OF INTERRUPTING

Thanks so much for the great article on being an interrupter. [Aaryn Belfer] listed some relevant books, but left out one that I think is vitally important, which is Douglas Blackmon's Slavery by Another Name, about how states used post-conviction enslavement as a substitute for slavery. I, like most Americans, was completely unaware that actual enslavement was going on until the 1950s. The significant legal point, which I had also missed, is that the 13th Amendment actually formally authorizes this form of slavery because it only outlaws slavery "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted..."

Richard Roesel, Alexandria, VA


TEACHABLE MOMENTS

I am a community college professor in San Diego. I teach at both Cuyamaca and Mira Costa Colleges. I live with my wife, also a professor, in Southeast San Diego. I just wanted to say thank you for the article in CityBeat. Both the article and [Aaryn Belfer's] conversation on KPBS were amazing. She and Andrea Branch touched on so many poignant issues so concisely. I was left amazed and inspired. I am a white man in my late thirties married to a Filipino/ Mexican woman. We have a 5-year-old daughter and conversations about race come up fairly regularly in our household. There have been times, because of my racial background, that I have felt as though my desire to be understanding of and compassionate toward certain situations was called into question because I was the token guero in the room. I was glad to see a list of things in print that I can do to be involved in my community. Thank you for giving me a place to start.

Joshua Eggleton, Encanto


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