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Stand up against racism

Last week, two Transportation Security Administration employees in Miami were placed on leave after other TSA officers found two stuffed gorillas tied together and hanging with a noose, in a workstation under where passengers’ checked luggage is screened and sent out to the planes.

Now, you and I both know what such a display was intended to represent. It’s disgusting that anyone — anyone — harbors that kind of racism in their hearts and comes up with these things, let alone believes they are acceptable.

According to news reports on the incident, the manager who was notified of the display “tried to downplay the noose and gorilla display, saying it wasn’t racist, it was just a joke.”

For goodness sake, who thinks calling it a joke — suggesting they find it funny — makes it OK?

Well, that’s just one incident, you might be saying — and far, far away.

No. It is one of many incidents and the same mindset exists right here. You and I both hear it and see it regularly enough to know better.

It is not OK. It is wrong, even coming out of the mouths of older people who lean on the excuse that such language and behavior was acceptable when they were growing up. Sorry, folks, it was wrong then, too — and surely deep down you know it.

A black mother from West Virginia took to social media last week to report an incident in which her son was called the N-word by an opposing player during a basketball game. She stepped in immediately to defend her son, and received not support from those in the stands, but (according to her own retelling) silence, and looks of distaste that she was making a scene rather than staying seated and quiet.

According to her and others who weighed in on social media saying they had witnessed or were familiar with the situation, the player who used the word was not reprimanded. Not by his coach, not by a parent, not by anyone else in the stands. His belief that such language and behavior is acceptable apparently was reinforced.

That is shameful — I don’t care whose recent public word choice and behavior has made some people believe it is OK (encouraged, even) to bare the evil in their hearts.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets,” or as we often teach (or should be teaching) children “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” There is not exception in that rule. It doesn’t have an asterisk that leads to the footnote “unless those others are different from you in any way.”

Oh, and by the way, this is not a liberal or conservative idea. A racist is a racist no matter to what political party they have pledged themselves. Identifying as politically conservative does not make one a racist any more than being politically liberal makes one immune from the label.

We are better than this — or we keep telling ourselves we are, anyway.

If you see it, call it out. Let the offender know what they have said or done is wrong — it’s not acceptable, it’s not funny, it’s not cute.

It won’t stop until we let everyone, from all walks of life and at all levels of power, know they can’t get away with it anymore.

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Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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