Letters to the Editor

Blackstrom’s words touched me

I have just read Walter Blackstrom’s opinion, “No Excuses in 2008,” which is in the June 18 edition of The Bellevue Reporter and I want to say “thank you” to Mr. Blackstrom.

I cannot agree with him more on many of the items his finely-written article touched upon. Judging from the article, I am slightly younger than him (I am 50, and I have lived my entire life in the Pacific Northwest). I have not had to witness some of the incredible indignities that he and his family have had to regarding segregation of “public” facilities and business, and frankly, the practice of it simply disgusts me.

I was 10 years old when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, only to be followed by Bobby Kennedy’s savage killing literally months later, and do not have conscious memories of them, but I realize how devastating (and possibly country-changing) they were.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have been consciously aware of them. I cry every time I hear Bobby’s brief announcement of MLK’s death, and his poignant words. We as a nation in the past have allowed people to murder our most important individuals, and indeed, anyone who dares to take a stand, whether they be black or white, gay or straight, male or female. We, as Blackstrom said, are very far from the mountaintop.

I cannot imagine the personal hurt he has experienced, both internally, and perhaps externally as well, and I can hear that acceptance has been hard at times. But he never again should let any one take away his dignity and humanity simply because of the color of his skin.

My heritage carries with it the heritage of the horrible treatment of women, the enslavement of others for profit, and the indescribable torture of people, just because of the difference of the color of their skin. His heritage can hold its head very high in very many ways, many more than mine can.

Our youth have no role models, except “get the money, get the bling, get the man/woman.” And I agree that there is no uglier word than the “N” word. But with every child you work with, you give an opportunity for them to move away from this type of behavior and disturbing statistics we see.

How proud I am to have lived to see the day when a person of color has the opportunity to be president (or the opportunity to see a woman, for that matter). I remember Obama speaking at the last presidential convention and being transfixed to the screen, and somehow I knew, “this man was going to go far.” And with the help of people like Blackstrom and me, he is going all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the day he takes that oath, tears will be streaming down my face. And maybe, just maybe, we will start climbing back up the mountain again. Together.

John Edwin Palmer


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