I was disturbed by the lack of thoughtfulness in John Digirolamo’s letter, and the underlying issues it reveals. First, he defined racism incorrectly “I define racism as treating people different because of their skin color or country of origin.” That’s not the definition of racism, it’s the definition of bias. Racism is a systemic and historic oppression of a people (for example via slavery) of one race over another, supported by policy, doctrine, acts of war, economic practices – basically it is baked into society and formed the basis of both its growth and culture. That is the situation in the United States, where racism allowed the enslavement and systemic oppression of multiple races, including, but not limited to African Americans. Only white people, in other words, can be “racist” because we are the only ones backed by institutional history and support. Although other races can be biased or prejudiced, they do not have the support of centuries of history, dogma, policy, voting practices, lending practices etc.
His comment that people should not be offended by their country of origin being called a “sh*thole” country by the United States president is simply insensitive. Why wouldn’t someone be offended at such a vile, hateful comment? How would John feel about the U.S. being called a “sh*thole”? It’s a simplistic, dismissive, and ugly comment that erases a rich culture in a single word. People have every right to be angry.
He condemns NFL players for exercising their free speech and deeply held convictions against the unjustifiable and disproportionate deaths of African Americans at the hands of police, yet John insists it has nothing to do with race. I’m not sure at this point what he’s talking about. Of course it’s about race, the protestors are TALKING ABOUT RACE. You either support them and their cause or not. Might I remind John that many, many people criticized the civil disobedience of Martin Luther King and the SNCC at lunch counters as being “disruptive”. These people are not committing violent acts, they are using their voices to raise concerns about injustice. In my opinion they are the true patriots because they are asking us to be the best, most just America we can be.
Lastly, John is woefully uninformed about immigration policy and the reality of the Trump administration. He says it’s a myth of children being ripped out of the arms of parents, when in fact it is reality, a reality introduced as POLICY by the Trump administration. Please note, it was made policy by Trump, meaning standard practice, and required no vote, it was done at his will, and then later after the uproar it was undone. Although Obama occasionally separated older boys from parents, he did not separate out young children, he sent them with their mothers, and it was a practice that happened occasionally not a matter of course. The difference with Trump was that he made it official policy, meaning the norm not the exception.
Printing lies and misinformation about the reality of what is going on in this country does a disservice to us all. We are living through a time when racists have been emboldened to deny reality, stab people on trains, run into others at protestors, and continue to terrorize people of color at new levels. Friends that I have who are people of color are scared, and have good reason. They experience racial profiling every day. They are afraid to be pulled over. They look at Trump as unadulterated hatred, a backlash and “punishment” for having Obama in office. This is America at its worst, and people like John are not helping to heal. Perhaps John should talk to and listen to people issues, ask what they are protesting about and why, educate himself about immigration policy, and show a little more care beyond himself. If he still finds himself “hated” after that, maybe he can continue to ask himself why.
Formerly of Fraser, now in Minnesota