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We are regressing

As I watch my country falling apart, I recall the words of Abe Lincoln, “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Most of my history classes consisted of memorizing dates of wars and the leaders at the time.

It was not till graduate school that I finally learned about the “Original sin” as Jim Wallis of Sojourners calls it in one of his books. The white settlers took the land from its occupants and tried to force their religion on them, killed them, etc. Because they could not enslave the Indians, they went to the continent of Africa for free labor or slavery — ownership of another human being. Because many of our founding fathers were slave owners, they classified the slaves as 3/5 of a person. Who gave them the right to do so?

Anyone who has truly studied our history knows the ugly facts of hatred, abuse, murder, etc. Not many history books included the Red Summer after black troops returned from WWI were hunted down, lynched, etc. The books do not tell of African American neighborhoods or towns being destroyed by white “Christian” men who did so under the cover of a white sheet.

Jim Crow is not mentioned in many books. The Civil Rights movement in the ’60s seems to puzzle many white people. What did “these” people want? Maybe they wanted the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe they wanted to ride the bus, eat at any restaurant, stay at any hotel, attend any school, work at any job they wanted just like the white people did.

Many films have attempted to depict life during slavery, the Jim Crow era, the 1960s, etc. “Twelve Years a Slave,” “The Green Book,” “Hidden Figures,” just to name a few try to depict life in those times.

Why do we have segregated neighborhoods and schools? How many people know about “red-lining” used by realtors, banks not granting loans, etc.? Code words have been used and are still in use. When you read that a house is in a neighborhood with “good schools” it means all-white schools.

Now I see a country where the legislators want to reduce the number of social studies classes in our high schools, do not want to cover slavery, etc.

Now I see a country where many of our citizens do not know about the Holocaust. I see a rise of openly white supremacist activities. We see violence against black people with police brutality, a rise in antisemitism, and hatred of Muslims, people of color and “asylum seekers.” The worst part of this is that it is being encouraged and fanned by the administration in Washington, D.C.

Margaret Meeker

Williamstown

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