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Sue Bower

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

Am I a racist? I grew up in a small town where there were few Black people. A Black church was at the end of our alley, and on Sundays, I could hear their beautiful voices singing. In Girl Scouts, I remember being the only white girl who would swing double with Helen, a Black girl in our group. When she died of polio, we scouts went to her funeral in that same church. In Chicago, my Black university friends were afraid to take me to the Southside. I was there with them when Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. died. People marched through our campus to the Northside to burn and loot. When my special daughter was born, the only daycare in Jefferson City that would take her was run by Fergie, Lynn and Nanny, a Black-owned daycare. How I loved them all! I still do.

I am not around many Blacks in Jefferson City. When I do see some, I try to smile at them or say "hi." Some smiles are returned. Sometimes I am glared at like I am their enemy. I am not. How do you begin a conversation when you don't know what to say? I have seen some walk through a grocery store discussing loudly how bad the store and its employees were. What am I supposed to feel? There is racism here and everywhere. Going to LIR, I saw a truck with a Confederate flag slow, and the man inside yelled obscenities at LU athletes. Let the past die. Who keeps this hatred alive?

The hard question that no one wants to ask is this, and as I ask it, I wonder if I am a racist: As a Black person, are you better off here in less-than-perfect America or would you be better off in your African country of heritage? We all have the same heritage — Adam and Eve. I am grateful I am not still in Germany, with my ancestors perhaps having gone through World War II. I am glad my family had opportunities to grow out of what most would call poverty, to get an education, to have a family that can continue to grow and improve. For all the pain that many of us have suffered, I am glad to be an American. God loves us all.

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