Editor, the Advocate:
In response to Ms. Breazeale’s guest column/blog from Oct. 16, you and I have had the extreme good fortune of not being judged by the color of our skin. We have not had the experience of having a pair of suspecting eyes follow us around a retail establishment while we go about our business. We are not glared upon when choosing to drive through an upscale neighborhood. We are not viewed as a potential criminal if we don a sweater with a hood when walking on a public street. We don’t have fathers, grandfathers or great-grandfathers who fought for this country in hopes that their service and sacrifice would convince their fellow countrymen that they deserved the same freedoms as everyone else only to come back from war and realize that nothing had changed. We haven’t been harassed and beaten with clubs from law enforcement and the general public for standing up for the basic right to drink from a public water fountain, relieve ourselves in a public restroom, take a meal at a restaurant of our choice, worship at a church of our choice, attend a school of our choice or exercise our constitutional right to vote.
I realize that, more than likely, most the young people of color have not experienced all of those prejudices mentioned above, but their elders have. And those elder experiences have been passed down to the young to make them aware of the sacrifices made over the years to gain those basic freedoms and rights. So when the young people of color experience and/or see the encounters with law enforcement, white supremacy factions or just the general public that have lead to violence and death, they are emboldened to action no matter if they are a person of meager means or an overpaid athlete.
Our experience in living in this great country has been far different from what many people of color have experienced. We celebrate the 4th of July as our independence day. Persons of African-American descent were not even seen as equal human beings in 1776; having had to wait 85 years to experience their independence day. American citizens of color have exhibited a strong patriotic spirit to their country, however, the road they have traveled is separate from yours or mine.
Empathy. Perhaps it can be found in John Howard Griffin’s book, “Black Like Me.”
Mike Laza, Victoria