Coming to terms

Racism is alive and well in our community and it’s time we deal with it

On Thursday, Feb. 26, about 80 people gathered at Chico State to hear the McGriff family’s first-hand account of the events of Jan. 26. Most were there to offer their support to and commiserate with the multiracial family who late one evening found a Confederate flag staked in their front yard. If there was one lesson to be taken away from the event, it was that the incident is not as unique to Chico as some might believe.

Several attendees—of many different races and ethnic backgrounds—also shared instances in which they’ve experienced or witnessed race-based offenses ranging from ignorance-driven insensitivity to full-blown violence.

There were stories of assaults uninvestigated by local authorities; of emotional and physical harm inflicted upon children and young adults in our educational institutions, from elementary schools on up; and of discrimination in local workplaces. Victims reported that, when they spoke up, their stories have been ignored or, worse yet, caused them to become the subject of scrutiny—the type of victim-blaming the McGriffs now appear to be enduring.

A common sentiment expressed at the meeting was the flag-planting more resembles something out of the Deep South circa 1965 than Chico in 2015, and all of us, regardless of race, can rightfully view that act as a black eye on the face of the entire community. But instead, many cling to the belief that we live in enlightened times, and obstinately refuse to entertain any notion or engage in any conversation that might challenge that naiveté.

Intolerance and insensitivity persist around us. Obfuscating issues and pointing fingers leads nowhere. It’s only by coming to terms with our own deep-rooted biases, as individuals and as a community, that real progress can be made, and healing can begin.