TOP OF THE TOWN – You know, I grew up in a lily white atmosphere and my first job post-college was in lily white Oklahoma (Tulsa), so I had every opportunity to be a racist and no one would have blamed me. I had very little interaction with blacks. I know for certain my grandmother was racist, and most likely my grandfather was too, although he never did anything that would make me believe that. But my grandmother Mosher … no doubt. Now I’m not certain my dad wasn’t, too. Because we never lived where blacks did and had zero interaction with them, I can’t say for sure about my dad. The only thing that raises doubt is when my half-sister said one time our dad walked into her house and wondered, “What is that guy doing here?” That guy was a black she had hired to do some work for her. She suspected that he said that in a racist tone. So I don’t know about my dad, other than I thought he was a very good person. Before I turned 20 I had had only two interactions with a black person. Once, I and three other friends, including Pete, a black, went into a beer garden in New York State (you could drink at the age of 18). The couple that owned the place knew me because I grew up in that neighborhood. Yet we four guys went for nearly 15 minutes without being waited on. Finally, I called over a waitress. She said she couldn’t serve us until she saw photo ID. This was 1959 and licenses did not have photos on them back then. She knew that, but it was her way of saying get lost. So we did. And it wasn’t until I reached the car in the parking lot that I understood what was going on. They were not going to serve us because Pete was with us. I was furious. I vowed to go back and chew on the owner. My second interaction occurred while playing with a partner in a card game of Euchre while I was in college at Alfred. My partner was a black, who was a tackle on the football team. He was a great guy and I slipped up and said something I won’t repeat here when I looked at my cards and realized they were all black ‑ spades and clubs. I had to be reminded what I said from one of the other guys playing. I sheepishly slumped down in my chair, but my black partner said nothing and may have even smiled. That happened 62 years ago, but I remember it now as clear as it had happened right now. You don’t forget, or at least I don’t, things you do wrong and I have not forgotten that. That little incident may seem minor compared to getting shot in the back seven times from close range, but I have not forgiven myself for doing it. What I said was a learned expression from my childhood and to me then it seemed innocent, but that is how racism is built and I have learned since that words can hurt just as much as stick and stones when hurled at someone of color. Racism is learned. We are not born racists. I believe we are born as good souls and what we become we become because of what we learn as we move along down life’s path. I have learned in the 60 years since I made that mistake playing Euchre that skin color means nothing in terms of character. We are who we think we are and it has nothing to do with your skin color. The tragedy is that millions of us have learned to be racist and now with a racist leading us from the White House those who subdued their racism through the years are being told it’s okay to express their racism openly. Some of them have collected their guns and taken to the streets where peaceful protesting is taken place against the brutality of police actions that are killing blacks unnecessary and unjustified. These gun-bearing people are out there exercising their claim to be right, white and superior. They have learned that from their environment and now they are unleashing racist anger on those who have learned that color doesn’t matter. It makes for a volatile clash of wills that is being exploited by the man in the White House to what he hopes carries him on to reelection. Are people like me that believe we are all Americans regardless of color, nationality, gender, and religion and political beliefs ready to unite and fight off the racists? Are you sick and tired of all of this? I know I am and so is Dee Gordon, a Seattle Mariner who told the Seattle Times, “The message is that we’re tired. I think we just told you this (after George Floyd’s death) and have been telling you every day forever. It’s time for the world to open their eyes and see that we’re tired. We’re tired of our people being killed, we’re tired of being nervous if we’re next or if our family members are next. I think that’s pretty simple. No one is trying to be above anyone or retaliate for anything that has happened over the years. We’re just tired. We’re tired of mothers grieving about their sons or daughters getting hurt by unnecessary things. That’s pretty much it.”

We are going through a lot of things right now – the virus, the abuse of power by the President of the United States, an election in November that most certainly is being rigged, the collapse of our economy, and the brazen openness of racists carrying their guns into major cities to shoot down protestors – and we can only solve these things by uniting as Americans to change the way we feel and act.

Don’t let racism creep into your life. Fight to change laws that enslave blacks and minorities and do that by changing the lawmakers who make those laws. Target them with your vote in November. Oust them from office. Sweep out the old and bring in the new.

Change parenting to teach the young that color is not a bridge too far. What you tell your child is what that child becomes. You are what you think you are and you get that thinking by what others show and teach you when you are young and absorb so much.

Follow your subconscious. It will tell you what is right and what is wrong. Throw out the wrong and keep the right. Discard hate and keep love. Hate is darkness. Love is light.

You might disagree with me politically. That is alright. But don’t let our differences in politics, our color, our religion our gender, our nationality, separate us. In the end, we are all Americans. United we stand, divided we fall. Stay united and God bless America.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.