So someone thinks it’s funny, or intimidating, or acceptable to send a letter filled with racial slurs to a public official.
Wonderful. The Mississippi haters must be ecstatic. Sure, every state and country has its share of racist hate-mongers — but, we can imagine them thinking, at least they’re not Mississippi.
And that is the misconception we labor under. Have we resolved the issue of race? Of course not. But we are not denying its existence. Mississippi has made great strides against racial intolerance but it obviously has not vanquished it.
Someone is sure to use that old stirring-the-pot argument, “you make everything about race” to excuse or brush off this behavior and our protestations. But we’re not falling for it. This is about race. These hurtful people and their slurs aim to do harm to our friends and neighbors. They are a stain on all of us. We won’t sit back silently. We won’t quit.
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There’s probably no way to catch this particular culprit. He or she is a coward, writing anonymously, and taking care to cover their tracks. But we will not let this paint everyone in Bay St. Louis, or the Coast, or Mississippi with a broad brush.
People who use racial slurs are living on the fringe, whether they know it or not. We’ll further marginalize them every chance we get. This is not who we are.
Most Mississippians cringe at the thought of someone speaking the language of slave traders, klansmen and lynch mobs. But there are too many among us who imagine themselves hip, or strong or superior when they belittle someone because of their race.
Bay St. Louis Councilman Jeffery Reed, the recipient of the letter, said he read it and decided to laugh it off. We admire his forgiving attitude.
We’d laugh too, laugh in the racist’s face if only he or she had the courage to show it.
But racists prefer to operate in the shadows, so we use this moment as a reminder that we have work to do. We have too many dark-hearted people out there who believe it’s OK to pick on minorities, to bully them to try to deny them of the rights.
We must not rest until these racists admit the ignorance of their ways. Or we have banished them from society.
Each of us can play a role. If you hear someone say “n-----” in public, let the speaker know that slurs are unacceptable. Do not fear. The majority is on your side.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.