Monday, April 12, 2021

Racism alive and unwell in North Idaho

by DONALD BISHOP/Guest Opinion
| April 3, 2021 1:00 AM

There's no racism in North Idaho?

Racism comes in many forms and colors. Mr. Shelton, you might be “blinded by the light” or maybe you choose not to see the hate in North Idaho staring you in the face. Racism is very much alive and well in the Northwest as well as the South, West, and East. We are not the United States. We are the Systemic States of Racism.

Have you driven your vehicle around Cd'A or other surrounding cities? Have you noticed the very large Confederate flags flying out of huge lifted trucks? Do you understand the symbol and meaning of those flags?

I am sure I don't have to give you a history lesson on slavery. Lincoln freed the slaves but he did not free the hatred toward Blacks that still exists today. It has been over 400 years and the treatment of our African/American brothers and sisters is still front and center.

These Confederate flags are flown with an “in your face” attitude. You will also notice, my friend, that Trump flags often accompany Confederate flags. Coincidence?

We had a neighbor with a giant flag pole who flew both of these flags proudly. Your political policy is your own business but a Confederate flag is where I draw the line. Our neighbors were asked, politely, to remove the flags as we were hosting about 30 kids (most of them are in their 30s) which we had done for over 10 years. They are our son's friends from Seattle who we think of as our friends, as well. Most represent ethnic minorities (Asian, African American and Hispanic, a wonderfully diverse group).

However, these neighbors refused to take down their flags, even for just a week, saying "It is my right." We found her decision to be thoughtless, heartless and downright selfish.

I repeat, do you understand how racist this flag is and what it represents? I am sure you also know that this flag was flown at the insurrection as rioters stormed our nation’s Capitol and was seen inside the building, with individuals posing and taking pictures holding it. Disgusting.

You mentioned, sir, the insurrection was no big deal because just five people died. Really? One person killed is too many. It doesn't matter how. By suicide, by being beaten with a U.S. flagpole. Details don't matter. People died.

Imagine the psychological damage that was done to our police and the National Guard who were trying to preserve our Capitol. They are the heroes. By the way, 140 people were also injured and maimed, as well as 50 police officers hurt. No big deal?

Guess what they said about the racist hate comments that were yelled at them? They took them in stride as part of their job. Well, it is a big deal when people are hurt or killed by white supremacists or other hate groups. You cannot tell a racist by looking at them. I cannot tell a rapist by looking at them, either. Actions speak louder than words.

There are 838 hate groups in this country, including North Idaho. While you are shopping at Fred Meyer, or wherever you shop, look around and see if you can spot one. The number of hate groups rose to a record 1,020 groups in 2018 with our former president. His rhetoric about immigration fueled resentment from white people (mostly angry white men). Now we see racism and hatred against the Asian culture as well as more anti-Semitic violence. Sickening. How are you not seeing this?

Prejudice and antagonistic behavior toward other people or ethnic groups is nothing new to this country. It has been going on, this hatred toward minorities, since the beginning. The question is, when will it end?

Burying your head in the sand or blindly saying there is no racism is ignorant and dangerous. Do you have any friends who aren't white? If you do, ask them if they have been treated unfairly in this country. I would bet their answer is a big fat YES.

So, how exactly do we fix racism in America? There is no easy fix. Traveling around the world or even other states will allow you to see other cultures, and how other people who speak differently, live.

Learn their language. Experience their food. Talk to all the amazing people, like my wife and I do on our annual trip abroad. Get out of your comfort zone. Take in their music and engage in conversation. Their lifestyles may be different than ours, but our feelings are the same.

Education is the key to deconstructing racial narratives. We need to educate our young people about the rest of the world. I had a friend who said she never had been to Spokane and she lives in Cd'A. We need to get out of our comfort zones and meet people from as many places as possible, even if it's just a day trip from home. Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.


Donald Bishop is a retired teacher living in Blanchard.