By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Race series ends with introspection

Part III of a Series: “I don’t think I’m a racist.”

As you can see, two chapters in, I’ve moved from “I am not” to “I don’t think I am.”

We’ve reviewed disturbing racist histories of the United States and Oregon … noted our state’s 1999 “Day of Acknowledgment” … and compared concepts of “nonracism” and “antiracism.” As a series finale, perhaps we can explore our own hearts and minds.

In Yamhill County, we mostly are long-range spectators to racial strife in a nation with 14 times our Black population percentage. Our self-assessment of racist tendencies is more intellectual hypothesis than real life experience.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

We accept, respect and value our county’s 16 percent Latino community — actually, 37, 32 and 23 percent, respectively, in Dayton, Lafayette and McMinnville. Yet, Latino neighbors remain under-represented in local governance, community leadership and accumulation of wealth.

This week, legislative allocation of $62 million was described as a fund “to help mitigate the devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Black community statewide. A community that has been made vulnerable by historical disinvestment and institutional racism.”

That’s simply liberal thinking, some say. Conservative Andrew McCarthy, author and National Review contributing editor, wrote in June:

“The most dangerous threat to the African-American community in America is not cops. It is liberals. The United States is not institutionally racist. The political system, the criminal-justice system, and academe overflow with political progressives. The notion that they would tolerate racism in their institutions would be laughable if sensible people were encouraged to think about it rather than mindlessly accept it … where it exists, racial discrimination is a conscious state of mind. The reality is that our institutions of opinion are so obsessively racialist, no one in America has the luxury of being unconscious about racism.”

Thanks, Andrew, for confirming my initial thoughts on being nonracist. Except for one thing: that reasoning is hogwash. Acknowledging both conscious and subconscious influences from centuries of abhorrent American racism does not have to mean you’re a raging white supremacist.

Perhaps events of 2020 will encourage Americans to grapple honestly with realities of past, current and future racism. Then, in the words of Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be An Antiracist,” perhaps more people “can stop denying that they may have racist ideas, that they may be supporting racist policies, that they are doing nothing in the face of racial inequity.”

Oh, and one last thought: All politics aside, Black Lives Matter.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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