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The sounds of silence 

I guess a few more of you will have to die off (“Yes, I’ve used the N-word,” July 4).

With all due respect, I was living in Jim Crow Arkansas in the ’50s when white people did refer to us as nigger. It was not acceptable to us, and I must enlighten you that it was not acceptable to that black man working in the field that your dear cousin Maggie called him nigger. You have romanticized this exchange as “he respectfully yelled back.”

I assure you, that was not respect. That was fear. That man had a wife and children that he had to protect.

I can almost guarantee you that when that man returned to his work, he said to no one in particular, “white trash.” Yes, I have seen the “respectful” smiles disappear after a denigrating encounter and hear very apoplectic remarks regarding white people when they were out of earshot.

We knew that one small infraction meant life or death. I am not embellishing this way of life at all, Mr. Wechter (Tulsa, Okla., Black Wall Street riots). The KKK was in full force in the ’50s.

Adult black men answered to boy and uncle. That was not OK. Black women were called girl and auntie, and yes, “nigger.”

We were taught and reminded by our parents, teachers, and religious leaders on a consistent basics that there was no due process for us.

I was at a party in Orange County when the word “nigger” was used. Not one person confronted the offender. I left the party.

My Jewish husband has heard people refer to Obama as “that nigger president.”

I live in Morro Bay, and my neighbor has used the “N” word. Some of my neighbors are outraged, some look the other way.

Dr. King stated that he “will not remember the words of his enemies, but the silence of his friends.”

No it is not just about how we treat each other, Mr. Wechter, it’s what we say about each other as well.

 

-- Dr. Patricia Gordon - Morro Bay

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