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Our Readers Write: Reflections on racism

Protesters demanding racial justice in the United States march down Pershing Drive toward downtown San Diego on June 4.
Thousands of protesters demanding racial justice in the United States march down Pershing Drive toward downtown San Diego on June 4.
(Sam Hodgson / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Letters to the editor:

Now is no time for silence about racism

I am writing to express my disappointment in the lack of response regarding current events prompted by the needless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade.

Now is not a time for silence, but rather a time in which we must have a difficult reckoning with ourselves.

In 1990, celebrated La Jolla icon Gregory Peck wrote a letter in which he recounted an incident he witnessed in his youth. He wrote: “One of my earliest and most vivid memories is of a Klan incident, the burning of a cross in front of a house rented by a black family in the small town of La Jolla, California. It was in the early 1920s, when I was about 5 years old, but I remember it well. It must have been my first awareness that hate and violence existed in the world.”

Here we are, nearly 100 years later, and although progress has been made in La Jolla, it is still far from being a welcoming community for its black members. Gone are the cross burnings and explicit housing discrimination practices. Instead, racism continues to exist in the form of emails harmfully profiling black men (“La Jolla principal Donna Tripi hosts racism forum after controversial email,” October 2018) and in satirical cartoons that perpetuate tired stereotypes (“‘Disrespectful,’ ‘racist’ cartoon in La Jolla High newspaper draws ire,” February 2018).

Even May 31, a UC San Diego Associated Students Zoom meeting was derailed by individuals targeting black individuals with derogatory language.

Rather than dismiss these incidents as minor aggressions, I ask readers to consider why these were considered harmful and how they contributed to making black community members feel less safe.

The May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest, has been at the forefront of renewed outcry, anger and debate over race relations in the United States, both in regard to police and society in general.

I am writing this letter not to lecture but rather to ask my fellow community members to take actions to support our black community. Head to your local bookstores or library and ask for anti-racism reading resources. Have the difficult conversations with your friends and family. Donate to support the families of victims lost to police brutality and racism.

To the Light, invite your black readers to contribute and give them a space within your pages to write and reflect.

Amplify our black community. Do whatever it takes, but don’t be silent.

Black lives matter.

Carla Diot

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History can play a role in achieving new perspectives

Recent events of economic, social and political upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic are teaching us new ways to live and operate. At the same time, civil unrest reminds us that the legacies of racism and inequality have not been reconciled, and that, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, gender equality is also incomplete.

We extend our condolences to the families of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and to the families of the victims of violence. We condemn those who would deny equal rights to all men and women, including access to education, economic opportunities, voting and health care. And we applaud all who stand for social justice and celebrate diversity.

History can teach us, challenge our assumptions and suggest change and new perspectives. History organizations have a duty to address contemporary issues and examine historical resilience, exploring the creativity that those who came before us used to meet the challenges of the past.

It is a serious responsibility, and one that the La Jolla Historical Society will continue to pursue with commitment and integrity.

Heath Fox
Executive director, La Jolla Historical Society

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Listen to and uplift black voices

I was disappointed, though not surprised, to find that the June 4 issue of the La Jolla Light made virtually no mention of nationwide protests sparked by the recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police — among too many other innocent and unarmed black Americans.

It should not be divisive or partisan to state unequivocally that black lives matter, but the events of the past few weeks are a reminder that it is absolutely necessary.

The fact that La Jolla is an overwhelmingly white and relatively wealthy community makes this even more important.

But it’s not too late. It is time for all of us to listen to and uplift black voices, learn how we can use our privilege in defense of black life, and act — at home, at work, in the political sphere and with our wallets.

The next issue should include a feature about what it means to be actively anti-racist and how people can get started, ideally written by a (paid) black writer.

Margaret Lindeman

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Tone of vandalism article was disturbing

This is in reference to “La Jolla businesses vandalized” (La Jolla Light, June 4, first appearing online June 2).

I was quite upset by the tone and manner in which the information in the article was conveyed.

Most importantly, [the print version] didn’t mention George Floyd by name, just his race. Secondly, it referred to violent protests, though the overwhelming majority of the worldwide demonstrations have had absolutely no violence. Thirdly, it referred to “President Trump,” as if the writer respected him, though he has done nothing but inflame the ongoing situation. Fourthly, the article mentioned graffiti as sad, not Floyd’s murder. That is extremely sad.

The article’s reference to social media made it seem as if the protesters were dangerous and wrong, rather than the actions of the police had been dangerous and wrong.

I am white. When I buy Band-Aids, I know that they will match my skin color. I trust that I will not be followed by security personnel when I am shopping.

I lived in New York City for several decades and spent an inordinate amount of time in Central Park. However, no one ever reported me to the police for activities there that included bird watching. I was never pulled over by police while driving due to the color of my skin.

My white parents never had to teach me to be submissive to police for fear that I might otherwise be killed due to the color of my skin. I have never thought that I might be rejected by employers, landlords, banks or cooperatives due to the color of my skin.

I have been reading the Light since 1981 and have enjoyed it immensely. I hope that its president, editor and reporters will ensure that compassion for all peoples will be an inherent characteristic of its future essays and articles.

Lewis Goodman

Editor’s note: We regret the original omission of George Floyd’s name. The article was changed online but could not be changed in time for print. The references to the graffiti and social media cited in this letter were in quoted statements reporting the La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s reaction to vandalism at two businesses on Prospect Street. They were not statements by the writer. Referring to President Trump, or any president, in that form is standard practice at news organizations throughout the country and is not a reflection of the writer’s opinion.

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Ciao to Sicilia Bella

Just around the corner from Whisknladel, which was featured in the May 28 edition, is another restaurant that closed its doors: Sicilia Bella at 7918 Ivanhoe. This became another COVID-19 loss to La Jolla.

Owners Ben and Sidne Aiello moved here from Sicily several years ago. They filled their deli and cafe with only Italian products and Sicilian menu items. Friends of mine joined me every Wednesday for
cappuccinos and cannolis, and all of us regularly ordered dinners to take home that evening. Their cafe was the starting point this past winter for us to go to the La Jolla Community Center for an entertaining Italian film festival.

The Aiellos’ silver lining is that it gives them time with their newborn daughter, Juniper. We wish them well as new parents and for their promise to reopen sometime soon. Ciao!

Jim Stewart

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What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the La Jolla Light express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. Letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity and accuracy. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your name and city or neighborhood of residence to robert.vardon@lajollalight.com. ◆