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Letter: Time to recognize history of prejudice and discrimination

To the editor:

I have begun reading a book entitled “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein. I haven’t read very much of the book, but two things have already made an impression on me.

The first is that I was ashamed that I had been a federal employee. It was extremely difficult for me to think I was part of a government that, at the very least, condoned discriminatory practices and, in many instances, implemented and encouraged these practices. My only rationale was that I joined the federal government after implementation of several civil rights laws, many of which have sadly been eviscerated in the recent past.

The second impression was a reminder of how African Americans in South Carolina (and assuredly, elsewhere), constantly lived with the memory of a segregated past. I remember regularly driving past an elementary school in a predominantly African American part of the city. This school was named for Ben Tillman, a South Carolina segregationist who, in 1876, led a collection of white supremacists who killed African Americans who had wanted to vote. While I was shaking my head over the irony of African American children who attended a school named after an individual who may have killed their ancestors, I was reminded of the article I had read a while back. This article talked about history books given to black children after they were no longer used by the white schools. The books said that the KKK was a kindly group and blacks were lazy and unintelligible. Can you imagine being a black child reading that?

I think it’s high time we fair-skinned people acknowledge our history of prejudice and discrimination. Furthermore, we should make our children aware of our shortcomings so that they can take steps to create a more caring, unbiased country.

Antoinette Vella, Dixon

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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