I am grateful for the article “Making strides: Locals dedicate workouts to Georgia victim of racial injustice” (May 8), and I am thankful for the words of empathy expressed by the mothers you interviewed for this article. (I know two of these women, and I know that both of them have big hearts for people.)
As a person who grew up in Georgia and who is known as a lifelong fan of my home state's flagship university, the murder, nay lynching, of Ahmaud Arbery weighs heavy on my heart. And, as a member of our local Focus On Race Relations (FORR), Frankfort, I have committed myself to dive deeply into the racist history of our nation and current expressions of it, in ways both individual and institutional. Because of my Georgia roots and my Frankfort re-education, I am now wondering about something that happened here in Frankfort on May 2.
On that Saturday, several hundred people descended on the Capitol to protest Gov. Andy Beshear's restrictions on business and his refusal to hurry the reopening of Kentucky's economy. Although I do agree with the steps that the governor has taken during this pandemic, that is not why I am bothered by the protest.
What bothers me is that among the banners flown that day was a Confederate flag. Please know that I grew up, as a true native son of Georgia, convinced that this flag was a symbol of historic pride, a nod of honor toward our Confederate ancestors. But please also know that I have come to realize, after much reading and thinking and hearing the voices of many African-American writers, that the Confederate flag is a symbol of “we don't like your kind.”
In short, it is a symbol of hate. To those who would want to argue otherwise, I suggest you ask some of our fellow Kentuckians who are African American what they see in that Confederate flag. But what bothers me as much as the presence of that Confederate flag at the protest is the lack of public outcry against it.
One thing I am learning in my involvement in FORR Frankfort, especially in spending time with fellow ministers, half of whom are African American, in a study called “Be the Bridge,” is that it is not enough for white people to say, “I am not a racist.” Instead, we can put meaning to those words only when we become anti-racists.
How does a person become anti-racist? First by educating yourself. Read books such as “Waking Up White” by Debbie Irving, or “So you want to talk about race,” by Ijeoma Olou, or either of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, “The Underground Railroad” or “The Nickel Boys,” to list just a few.
Watch TED talks on the subject. Subscribe to Kanopy (a free subscription to tons of movies and documentaries, through your Paul Sawyier Public Library card) and watch documentaries such as “White Like Me,” by Tim Wise or “I Am not Your Negro” about James Baldwin and racism in America.
Listen to podcasts like Codeswitch, The Breakdown with Shaun King, and “Seeing White” and “The Land that has never been yet” on Scene On Radio.
A good way to explore racism, and to learn how to act as an anti-racist, is to be involved in a group of others who are on a similar path. Focus On Race Relations, Frankfort and Frankfort Anti-Racism Advocates are local groups who seek to do this; you can find out about how to be involved through their Facebook pages.
Opposed to racism? Then please DO something about it.
Scott Rollins, of Frankfort, is minister at Highland Christian Church. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.