It’s clear a little more listening is in order


To the Editor:

Recently I read about public concern regarding CRT (Critical Race Theory) in the Sylva Herald.

A Mr. Michael Padgett asked where in our laws passed in recent times is there bias or hostility towards minorities. I do not know Mr. Padgett or else I would reach out and talk to him in person. Many other people may sincerely be asking this same question. I want to start with this – “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” as you read these words.

I am aware of some instances within our legal system that are racially biased. One would be gerrymandering voting districts. The Supreme Court ruled that the drawing of districts in N.C. was blatantly racially motivated – to reduce the voice of black voters within traditionally black neighborhoods/communities. In addition, many states are trying to reduce early voting, mail in voting and no “Souls to the Polls” on Sundays. I can’t explain in the limited amount of words I am allowed in this format how this is racially motivated – but one example is that the black church had a huge and successful “Souls to the Polls” program where they took buses, or drove people in their cars from church to the polls to vote.

Also it is well documented that many violent deaths of people of color (particularly black men) are for minor non-moving traffic violations. Violations that if you happen to have white skin often end with a ticket or warning (if you get pulled over at all). This is because of racial bias.

Now, we all have biases. You can’t live on this earth and not have them. My understanding of CRT is that it teaches everyone to look at history and see the biases that exist and how they play out on the people and communities that they live in. It is not to teach white children or their parents or grandparents to be ashamed, but to open our eyes to how there are systems in place that have perpetuated these biases. The only way for us to do better and move forward is to be aware of them. Racism and racist policies are not only evident in white hoods and cross burnings. It is also in our policies and yes, our laws.

I have been trying to listen without anger or defensiveness to the experiences of people who have a different skin color than mine. It does not harm me to listen to people tell me what they experience and believe them. Just because it is different from my experience does not make it untrue. And I mean experience – not opinion. There is a big difference. So, a little less anger and a little more listening is perhaps how we all start to begin to understand each other.

Julie Ogletree, Sylva