Letter: Open our hearts and minds

To the Editor:

America was founded on protests against injustice and inequality; colonists believed they weren’t equal to their peers in Britain. “No Taxation Without Representation” was the 1770s equivalent to #BlackLivesMatter.

There was looting then too – remember the Boston Tea Party? I don’t condone the current looting or violence, but understand why people might be frustrated enough with the lack of change to do something like pull down a statue.

Why do we put statues up? It’s to honor or commemorate a person, to inspire our children to grow up and be like that person. We don’t need statues to remember history; that’s what education is for.

So why are there so many statues to Confederate leaders like Robert E. Lee, a man who fought on the losing side, was a traitor to the country that taught him military science, and fought for the cause of keeping people as property?

Because statues can also be put up to remind the populace of who is in power. In the USSR, every town had a Lenin statue for this purpose. After the U.S. Civil War, during the brief Reconstruction period in the South, Blacks voted and even held office.

But when whites drove Blacks out from office, often through violence, and implemented Jim Crow laws, that’s when Confederate statues began to appear, to remind Blacks to “stay in their place.”

BlackLivesMatter is not an organization with members, unlike, say, the KKK.  It is the simple idea that Blacks should no longer be discriminated against, such as in housing (redlining), medicine (Tuskegee syphilis experiments), or policing (Blacks stopped/arrested/killed much more than their representation in the population).

And yes, this systemic racism still exists. As Chris Rock has said, " There ain't a white man in this room that would change places with me. None of you. None of you would change places with me, and I'm rich!"

We go to church because we are not perfect, not without sin.  Nor is America.  But if we open our ears, minds, and – most importantly – hearts to each other, we can help this great country,

Vicki Rundquist