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Is Salem in Denial of Bias?Barry Lee Coyne Salem-News.com
Let us learn how to extricate such warped attitudes and truly practice universal love. Short of that, we are indulging in self-folly.
(SALEM) - (Please see links at the end of this article about racism in Salem, Oregon)
Did all of us see The Statesman's front page story for Saturday? It focuses on an ugly case of racial prejudice of a Black woman named Ms. Dau Tucker employed at Salem Hospital. Clear and simple. I find this a wake-up call not for mere words but actions.
Far too often my Caucasian sisters and brothers retreat into a "purification ritual" to try to display to the outside world that they are regretful for the racial slurs revealed and would themselves never be guilty of any similar behavior.
Nice words in an apologetic tone...but nothing really changes. Dr. Norman Gruber, CEO at the employer Salem Hospital, issued an email statement proclaiming to follow the policy of "zero tolerance" for such prejudice, but that is no cure whatsoever: How and why did the hospital climate permit such an employee to enter its portals in the first place?
What Affirmative Action philosophy found its way into onsite worker training and orientation?
In the larger society, we show great tolerance for records and tapes and movies in which various grades of prejudice and bigotry are present. When we feign disgust after the fact, are we not collectively guilty of a double standard? Is it not like apologizing to a rape victim?
This brings up a very pertinent point: How do we as a community help the survivor of prejudice to begin to heal and make the trauma dissipate? This is a treatment issue, so far unaddressed.
Even if the so-called villain were found and punished, the scars do not automatically disappear. One begins to wonder if there is a city in Oregon with a multicultural population that Salem can emulate if that city has achieved "zero" reports of acts of bigotry over the last two years.
We must search out role models of demonstrated cohesiveness, well beyond the level of "tolerance".
As a society we need to find what can bring us together without finger pointing to this or that in the ever-toxic practice of one-upsmanship at the expense of others. Reinforcement in action must be our gold standard.
I am inclined to pursue what the Peace Corps does in its training of new volunteers. That training is predicated upon erasing ethnocentric beliefs that "America is best at anything and everything" that exists.
Such narrow-minded attitudes doom us to abject failure.
We cannot brag about America if we insist in pushing our agenda everywhere else. That is the rawest form of ethnic prejudice.
Let us learn how to extricate such warped attitudes and truly practice universal love. Short of that, we are indulging in self-folly. That's a heavy burden to bear, and we do have a choice of remedies.
(Editor's note: the following reports published on Salem-News.com deal in dangerous racism within the Oregon Department of Corrections facilities)
NOTE: B. Lee Coyne first emerged as a Caucasian cub reporter for the Black weekly NY Voice and was assigned to cover numerous civil rights struggles. It has left its indelible mark on his mindset. He can be contacted at: email@example.com.
B. Lee Coyne, a NYC native, blends three careers: Journalist, Counselor, Educator. His writings have appeared in newspapers and magazines on the East and West Coasts and the Southwest. He loves the art of the interview and has covered such persons as Dr. King's 1963 "Dream" speech and Sen. William
Proxmire as an advocate for the environment. A global traveller to some 30 countries aboard, he speaks Spanish semi-fluently and very rudimentary Russian, Tagalog, German, Arabic and Hebrew.
Lee's legacy here in Salem includes launching the Salem Peace Mosaic at the YMCA and doing a radio talk show for KMUZ/88.5 FM. It airs Mondays and highlights lives of proactive, productive senior citizens. He invites you to contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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