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Our Readers Write: Race relations and the path forward

These are signs that Sonia Teder-Moore's daughter placed in front of their home until someone tore them down and took them.
These are signs that Sonia Teder-Moore’s daughter made and placed on bushes in front of their house until someone tore them down and took them away, Teder-Moore said.
(Courtesy)

The La Jolla Light asked readers for their thoughts on race relations and issues such as police brutality in light of the nationwide demonstrations following the death of George Floyd during an arrest by Minneapolis police May 25. Here are the responses as of June 15:

A glimpse of what so many face

My 12-year-old daughter was so empowered to participate in the recent protest march in La Jolla and made a rainbow of positive and supportive signs to hang in front of our house on the highly visible corner of Draper and Nautilus.

In the late afternoon after the march, I was sitting in the front yard reading the paper when I heard a ripping sound and an angry voice cursing. A very irate white man spewing invective was tearing my daughter’s signs from the bushes where we had attached them.

I tried to stop him, ask him to leave my property alone, but he cursed at me and shouted, “I don’t need to see this crap!” and left, carrying all our signs under his arm. I was glad my daughter was not home to see such rage.

We live so protected from that kind of violence — protected by our skin color and this beautiful place where we live. As I told my daughter when I told her about what had happened, it was just a tiny taste of what so many people face every day — feeling powerless in the face of hate for who they are and what they stand for.

Sonia Teder-Moore

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Acknowledge systemic racism

It is our job to acknowledge and take the time to learn about the history of systemic racism and how the recent events fit into a pattern of inequality for black people.

Black people only make up 1 percent of La Jolla’s population, one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in San Diego, largely due to the racism embedded in wealth, income, housing, education, banks, employment and health care.

I urge the La Jolla Light to share resources to help readers educate themselves on our history of oppression and to become actively anti-racist. It is our responsibility to listen to black voices, learn
and take action.

There are many books, podcasts, movies and more that shed light on the black experience and dive into important conversations about racial equality and justice. We need solutions to affirm the prosperity of black lives.

We also need to acknowledge police brutality against black people and demand accountability. It is moving to see so many San Diegans come together in support of black lives and against police brutality.

I do believe this movement will lead to lasting change, but it is up to us to make the commitment. Black lives matter, today, tomorrow and every day after that.

Thanks for giving readers a voice.

Sarah Schug

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Listen to black Americans

I am writing this as a half-white and half-Filipino La Jollan who has not faced the discrimination that black Americans have faced for hundreds of years. I have never felt the fear that they feel. I have
never gone through the pain that they have gone through. To have others harass you because of your race is an experience that I have never had.

So if you are like me and have not gone through what black Americans have gone through, remember to listen to them and their stories.

Throughout history, listening has helped make great change. Americans listened to the experiences of women and fought for the 19th Amendment in the 1920s.

Americans fought for the 40-hour work week after they listened to the experiences of laborers in the 1940s.

Listening can create a better world, and that’s what we need to do now. In 2020, we need to listen to
black Americans.

If people listened to black Americans, people would hear that black Americans want to end police brutality. They do not want to fear for their lives when doing daily activities like jogging and walking on the street. They want police to protect and serve everyone rather than only protecting certain races.

They want to end the memorialization of Confederate leaders who fought for slavery and the suffering of black Americans.

They want justice for all people that police murdered.

If people listened to the black Americans, people would hear black Americans saying that there will be no peace until murderers are brought to justice. People will hear black Americans saying that the current unfair system that hurts black people needs to be fixed.

People would hear that black Americans want change.

Listen to what black Americans have to say. It is long overdue. When they tell their stories and share their experiences, you can learn the problems that the black community faces and join them in their fight for justice and equality.

I, among many others in La Jolla, have never had the experiences black Americans have had, so I am always ready to hear what they have to say. Listening is learning, and learning can create change.

Nathaniel Watson

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Institutions must refuse to tolerate hate

The current racial crisis brought back the pain of the ‘60s, when the country went up in flames over civil rights.

My late husband and I were actively involved in the movement in our hometown of Omaha, Neb., and suffered retribution and death threats, distancing from friends and a bank calling a note on my husband’s business, which was destructive.

There were some legislative changes, but discrimination continued. Real change won’t occur without elected officials, corporation executives, law enforcement agencies, education institutions and religious institutions becoming really dedicated to weed out the rules, laws, behaviors, culture of discrimination and hate in their respective venues.

You can’t change a person’s mind about their distorted beliefs without education and the refusal of government and others to tolerate hate and destruction of the lives of others different than them.

I hope I live long enough to see real change happen.

Diana Hahn

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Emphasize health and education for disadvantaged

I think that as a society we need to redouble our efforts to provide health and education to all the disadvantaged members of our society from birth to grave.

It is important to give maternal health and care before one is born, accompanied by coaching and education on nutrition of the body and the soul (mind) from birth to maturity. This means life skills in the 21st century.

Parents need to have jobs and health insurance and life skills in how to budget, prepare healthy meals on a budget, and bring up healthy and educated offspring with healthy living practices, learning skills and civic education.

This advice refers to all members of society, with a special emphasis on minorities, immigrants and economically disadvantaged members of our society.

Eduardo Feller

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Choose heroes carefully

I spent my early years in a non-affluent area of Queens, N.Y. I went to public school, was in the Army and worked with people of many backgrounds, without any problems.

I then bought a business and a gun to work in Newark, N.J. Three break-ins, three hold-ups and one murder.

Based on my limited experience, people are people. Given a decent education and a chance at a decent life, no one with half a brain would choose a life of crime and being locked up for most of his life. There isn’t enough money in it.

I would like to see if any newspaper would dare print the rap sheet of some that people tried to turn into heroes.

Stanley Back

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Create peace and justice with the Golden Rule

Prejudice, racism, sexism and discrimination … these are all issues that have plagued mankind throughout history. Our progress in resolving these issues has evolved slowly.

We try to resolve these psychological and human-nature issues with a legal approach. The legal process is essential for society, yet not sufficient for psychological and human-nature issues. Of course, we need to enact laws that now require reform to prevent people from acting badly, but it cannot legislate how people feel and think, especially by how some of us have been raised and/or
become set in our ways.

Law cannot necessarily force people to respect each other and be friends, as interpersonal relationships are a psychological function, not a legal one. Psychology is supposed to be scientific, about understanding reality and figuring out how things work for making changes.

The best way to overcome racial bigotry and promote racial understanding and harmony is to start practicing the Golden Rule:Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

Racism is a catalyst for violence, and anger is a legitimate response to oppression and discrimination. Racism is not just the result of people’s distrust in one another but more to do with economic disparity and class distinction. Simply, if you don’t feel like you’re getting a fair shake, naturally you feel resentful.

This is why it’s important we treat each other the way we want to be treated. We need to educate
the youth of our nation about the inherent bias and dangers of racism becoming saturated into our world. The solution lies in reformed education of our youth, by speaking openly and being honest about our country’s history of bigotry, sexism and stereotypes.

Our history prepares our youth to challenge these issues. For example, a child who knows the racial history of the Confederate flag is less likely to brandish that symbol out of ignorance, as well as being taught the history of the hateful lynchings in the South through the 1960s and the names that were hateful terms and carried the brunt of hundreds of years of painful history.

By teaching our youth that racism is a system of oppression, and that while white people can be
prejudiced against, they will learn they have never in American history experienced the long and aching pain of racism.

Ultimately, teach our youth that forgiveness and acceptance are powerful tools, but only after recognizing the ignorance and bigotry of the people they need to forgive and accept.

As residents of our community, whether you are a parent, business owner, neighbor, friend, teacher, etc., we are teachers of our youth and our actions speak louder than words.

This starts with providing the opportunity and making the time, patience and desire to help our youth grow into adults who value and honor diversity. By doing this, someday they will be able to practice what they learned and be better people for it, and at the same time, be accountable and responsible for their actions.

In my view, it will be the youth of our nation who will lead us toward racial understanding and harmony to find justice. It is up to all of us to set an example of practicing the Golden Rule and showing respect to all in order to help achieve justice.

Today, we can reflect back to when then-President Obama spoke at a service in Boston in 2013 about an 8-year-old boy who was the youngest of three people killed in the Boston Marathon bombings, who had previously made a homemade poster at school in which he wrote: “No more hurting people. Peace.”

At a young age, this boy understood what it could mean to believe in the Golden Rule … and so did this Being: From one man, He made every nation of men….Acts 17:26.

Mary Ann Goodbary

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Police need to change

I pray that nothing bad happens to me or my family for telling this story, but I feel now I am in good company with so many good people who have had similar experiences with bad police.

I was attacked by the police right here in La Jolla in my home by Windansea Beach. It was in 1995 or ’96 and I had a party for my son and his friends. We had music and food and I was well aware that there was a loud-music warning and was told that if there was a complaint the police would come and give me a warning to turn down the music, and if I did not they would come back and make me turn it down. That never happened.

While the party was going on, a fight broke out on the street between two boys, and a policeman threw a girl to the ground, and as people took his picture he called into his phone, “Cop down.” I was inside my property and had no idea what was going on.

We were having a great time, and at the time, my front yard alone was the size of a city lot. We had a barbecue and music. The next thing I know, police are rushing in in riot gear, helmets, shields. They were grabbing kids, clubbing, spraying pepper spray; it was insane.

Twelve police cars were on the street and a police helicopter was over my house, I took out my camera and took a photo of two police offers throwing a kid to the ground.

The next thing I know, they are running toward me, they push me to the ground on the stairs to my house and start smashing my camera, pull back my head and spray me with pepper spray. My son comes out and says, “What are you doing to my mom?” and they pepper spray him inside our house
and take me to our local prison. I was put in an orange jump suit and one of the inmates asked me why I was there and I said because I had a party in my yard, and she did not understand till I told her the part about taking photos of the police, and then she said, “Girlfriend, that is what you are doing in here,” not the party.

There is something wrong with the police in this country. The whole time I was going through this experience, I kept reading “Protect and Serve“ everywhere. I was not being protected or served, nor were those people in D.C. and other places where people were attacked by police for wanting to be heard.

I was so scared of the police for years. Every time I saw a police car I would have a small panic, knowing they could do whatever they wanted to me.

I am sure it is nothing like being black in this country, but fear was definitely instilled in me. I have black friends who know they could lose their lives by just driving their cars.

This has to change. This country need to change, police need to change what they are allowed to do and get on with protecting and serving.

I believe we have come to a time when we need to defund the police.

My son and I sued the police and won, as do thousands of people every day in this country. Billions in taxpayer money is going to pay for bad officers. We need to create a National Police Misconduct Register and get these hateful people off the streets.

We need to understand why the good ones will not tell on the bad ones and stop it.

These people have been given a badge by us to let them work out their hate issues, and it is being seen loud and clear by all of us. The whole world is watching!

The time has come to unite this country.

Melinda Merryweather

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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. ◆