After I wrote about the aftermath of the George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks killings in our June 9 and July 7 Wesley Chapel issues and our June 23 New Tampa issue, I was very pleased at the number of emails/letters I received from both black and white reader — of, apparently, a number of different races, religions and political viewpoints — who appreciated my take on the current situation and offered words of advice and encouragement and something much more valuable to me than just the kind words. Many of those who wrote to me have offered to help start and/or get involved with a local grassroots movement that might help stem the tide of systemic racism and build better communication here.
And, even though not all of the response has been quite so positive, there seems to be plenty of people interested in trying to figure out what we can all do to help — even those who have very different viewpoints about whether or not systemic racism even exists in our country.
One of the New Tampa readers who responded to my email wrote:
“Your editorial is complete (bull____). I get it’s your opinion but I suggest you understand the definition of ‘systemic’ as you didn’t provide any instances of that.”
Well, silly me, I thought the fact that I had unknowingly tried to pass a counterfeit $100 bill at a bar and didn’t end up with anyone kneeling on my neck for 8:46, as George Floyd ended up for passing a counterfeit $20, was at least representative of the difference between how white and black people are treated in similar situations.
I guess my mistake was that I just didn’t think I needed to give examples of the proof that systemic racism exists in our country because I believe in my heart that it does — as, yes, I have seen a few examples of it throughout my life.
And, the important thing, to me, as the person who wrote the editorial, was that not only do I believe it exists, but also that I would like to somehow try to find a way to be part of the solution, even on a very small scale.
Plus, every time I put my opinions in writing and directly mail them to more than 120,000 of my closest friends, I fully expect some people to disagree with me — and I’m even OK with it if they are vehement in that disagreement. That’s the risk I take for having opinions and I’ve never wavered from being willing to take those risks for the last 26+ years and — because I live in the United States of America — I still always believe in everyone’s right to their own opinions, even when they differ from mine. That’s just who I am.
I am still looking for additional people who also want to help. At this point, I’m thinking about organizing a Zoom meeting for everyone interested in an open dialogue with people who may or may not share your viewpoint on the topic of racism. If you’re interested in being part of this initial attempt to try to find a better way, please email me at email@example.com. And please, if you already emailed me after reading last issue, you don’t have to mail or email me again to get involved. Everyone who already has sent me an email on this subject should have received an invitation to that Zoom meeting before this issue reached your mailbox. Thanks, and stay safe!
My Take On Masks Now
OK, I’ll admit it, I absolutely hate wearing a face mask out in public. But, unlike apparently too many people, I have been wearing masks in public places since just after St. Patrick’s Day.
When we first started wearing them, Jannah and I couldn’t find disposable masks anywhere, but we did find some nice homemade cloth masks being sold on the Wesley Chapel Community Facebook page, so that’s what we wore, although we sometimes just cut T-shirts to make our own masks when the others were being washed.
At that time, when most of Florida in general and Pasco in particular had very few cases of Covid-19, many people mocked me for wearing the cloth masks, saying that they have been proven to not stop the spread of the virus, etc.
All I knew was that cloth masks were all we had and I wanted to at least wear something when I walked into Publix or Walmart.
As Florida has been reopening the last several weeks (seemingly too quickly, however), and all kinds of face coverings have become much more readily available, the thing I have had trouble understanding is why so many people still have such a problem with wearing them — and no, I’m not calling you out if you have a true medical reason for not wearing one.
I have been told by more than one local resident that the pandemic is a hoax because they didn’t personally know anyone who had died from the virus, as well as many who have just said, “I’ll never wear one, no matter what.”
I hope that, with Florida setting new Covid-19 case records almost every day at our press time — and with bars in Florida not being allowed to serve alcohol on their premises since June 25 because so many of the new cases are younger people who still seem unconcerned about wearing masks or social distancing — more of us will be willing to adapt to this new “normal”…for quite a while still to come. For me, this is a public health issue, NOT a political one, so I wish more of us could stop politicizing it and do the right thing for all of us.