PROTESTS' CALL FOR CHANGE NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED WITH ACTION: Four hundred years of institutionalized racism has allowed our governments bureaucracies to treat black and brown communities as less entitled – subjecting them disproportionately to the ravages of natural disasters and the impacts of pandemics, such as the COVID-19 crisis we are in the midst of now. The time to end this discrimination is now. Theirs is a call for action. There is no magic to this. It is only a matter of will and the commitment to EVERYONE, regardless of race, color, religion, sex and national origin, for an opportunity to a quality life. We allow police to use too much force and turn it on racial minorities while enacting laws that disproportionately send more black and brown people to prison. End brutal police practices and reform our judicial system and prison policies. Failure now will be addressed at the polls in November. Voting has never been more important.
DON'T POINT THE FINGER AT GOVERNOR COOPER FOR STATUES COMING DOWN, REPUBLICANS ARE TO BLAME: At the heart of this trouble is the law the Republican-led General Assembly passed in 2015. They acted to block a backlash against Confederate monuments after a white supremacist slaughtered nine black church members in Charleston, S.C. The law, with a few exceptions, bars state agencies and local governments from removing any “object of remembrance” on public property that “commemorates an event, a person, or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.” With that, the match was struck and the fires keep burning. There was the pulling down of a Confederate statue outside the old Durham County Courthouse after white supremacists marched in Charlottesville. Then came the toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate statue in Chapel Hill. More bitterness arose around the removal of a Confederate statue in Pittsboro. And on Friday night, fueled by the national George Floyd protests, protesters again acted to take down symbols of racism that the misbegotten state law protects. Cooper asked that Confederate statues be removed from state property in 2017. “We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery,” he said. “These monuments should come down.” The law blocked his request and the legislators refused to change it. Now the architects of this obstacle to reconciliation are complaining about the unrest it’s causing.
WEAR THE MASK! IT WON'T HURT YOU. IT MAY SAVE A LOVED ONE: North Carolinians don’t need to wait for a government order requiring them to wear face masks to thwart the spread of the COVID-19. It is common sense. It protects the public’s health. It is easy. Employers, retail establishment operators, restaurant owners and others should require it in working places of employees, customers and visitors. Along the customary 3-S sign: “No Shoes, No Shirt – No Service!” should be a new 3-W sign: “Wash your hands, Wait 6-feet apart, Wear a mask.” Make it clear. No Ws --- no service. No place of business should knowingly avoid doing anything that puts workers or customers health at risk. Wearing masks is the easiest and most effective way to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces. “This is a low-cost, low-tech way to protect ourselves and our communities. It’s an important way to slow the spread of the virus without hurting the economy,” Gov. Roy Cooper said during the Thursday COVID-19 briefing. “Wearing a face covering when you’re around others slows the spread of the virus.”
WE KNEW TRUMP DIDN'T CARE ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA. BUT THIS IS A NEW LOW: Eyewitnesses and family members described how China was building a string of concentration camps for its Uighur minority and others, incarcerating more than 1 million Turkic Muslims in an attempt to eradicate their culture, language and identity, one of the most appalling human rights abuses in the world today. China’s leaders first denied the camps existed, then later claimed they were schools for vocational education. But the evidence piled up that they were camps intended to wipe out the Uighur Muslim identity through mind-numbing lessons in Mandarin and demands that the prisoners renounce their religion, conform to the ways of the majority Han Chinese and respect the ruling Communist Party. On June 29 last year, President Trump met in Osaka, Japan, with President Xi Jinping of China. According to former national security adviser John Bolton, in a new memoir, Mr. Trump used the meeting to beg Mr. Xi to buy American farm products to help with his reelection. Mr. Xi also defended China’s camps in Xinjiang. “According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.” Mr. Trump has called Bolton’s book a “compilation of lies and made up stories.” Mr. Trump’s message in Osaka was that he would not use the power of the presidency nor the influence of the United States to save the Uighurs from cultural extinction. He may have emboldened Mr. Xi to tighten the screws on Hong Kong this year. Mr. Trump sullies the values of human dignity and freedom that the United States has championed around the world for generations.
THE BURNING OF BLACK WALL STREET, REVISITED: Greenwood, whose business district was known as the Negro Wall Street, was the seat of African-American affluence in the Southwest, with two newspapers, two movie theaters and a commercial strip featuring some of the finest black-owned businesses in the country. White Tulsa’s business elite resented the competition all the more because the face of that competition was black. Beyond that, the white city saw the bustling black community as an obstacle to Tulsa’s expansion. The white press set the stage for Greenwood’s destruction by deriding the community as “Niggertown” and portraying its jazz clubs as founts of vice, immorality and, by implication, race mixing. As was often the case in the early 20th century, a false accusation of attempted rape opened the door for white Tulsans to act out their antipathies. A black man accused of accosting a white woman in a downtown elevator in broad daylight was predictably arrested, and, just as predictably, a mob convened at the courthouse spoiling for an evening’s lynching entertainment. Black Tulsans who appeared on the scene to prevent the lynching exchanged gunfire with the mob. Outmanned and outgunned, they retreated to Greenwood to defend against the coming onslaught. The city guaranteed mayhem by deputizing members of the lynch mob — a catastrophic decision, given that Oklahoma was a center of Ku Klux Klan activity — and instructing them to “get a gun, and get busy and try to get a nigger.” The white men who surged into Greenwood may well have been told to burn the district. Greenwood’s defenders fought valiantly but were quickly overwhelmed. A 2001 report on the destruction commissioned by the Oklahoma State Legislature included a photograph of Greenwood burning. The telling, misspelled caption reads: “RUNING THE NEGRO OUT OF TULSA.”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PENELOPE ABERNATHY: GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO BETTER PROTECT JOURNALISTS: As Americans try to come to terms with the latest killings of African Americans by police and our history of racism, we call for media outlets to diversify their staffs. We’re also disturbed at the large number of attacks on journalists at protests. These journalists are representing the interests of the public. We are especially aware of the challenges faced by journalists of color, whose jobs ask them to remain dispassionate in the face of attacks that are all-too personal. We are journalism professors funded through the Knight Foundation who teach at universities across the U.S. We want a nation where our students can do their jobs in a culture of respect for the First Amendment. We call on governors, mayors, state lawmakers, city councils, prosecutors, police chiefs and police union officials to hold the perpetrators of attacks against journalists to account and ensure they stop immediately.
MELVIN TUCKER: WE MUST REFORM THE COURT SYSTEM AS WELL AS POLICE: Over the past 25 years I’ve served as a consultant in cases involving police and have testified numerous times in federal court. The problem is not just in police departments that fail to deal with racist cops who use deadly force unnecessarily and with impunity. We must face the fact that our federal courts give too much protection to the police. We, as a nation, must deal with racism in our jury system as white citizens serving on juries seem unwilling to hold white police officers accountable when they use deadly force unnecessarily against Black men. The shooting of Black men by white officers needs to stop. But, it won’t stop until our entire criminal justice system is reformed. Blaming the police for the unnecessary violence and demanding change in the way police operate won’t be enough. It is time that we had the political will to address the way our criminal justice system is failing us all. It’s past time to make sure that equal protection under the law applies to Black people too.
KEITH TOWNSEND: WHITE AMERICA SHOULD FACE UP TO ITS HISTORY: Several years after the end of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee declined an invitation to attend a Gettysburg memorial service. He explained, “It is wiser not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.” The South accepted his call for historical amnesia, not by forgetting the past, but by creating a memory of the war steeped in mythology. A number of my ancestors served as Confederate soldiers. I cannot attest to their character. However, I choose to believe that they were good and decent men. The nature of individual soldiers, whatever that may be, does not absolve the South of the horrific crime of slavery. I believe it is time, at last, for white Americans, wherever they might live, to accept the burden of history and acknowledge that much of our wealth and leisure has been gained through the pain and hardships of African Americans. In his book, “A Primer for Forgetting,” historian Lewis Hyde writes, “America lives steeped in history but not in the past.”