Harvey: Need to call racism out | AspenTimes.com

Harvey: Need to call racism out

I applaud the Sopris Sun for publishing the story about the racial prejudice experienced by visiting students on the Fourth of July in Redstone, on First Friday in Carbondale and at “a thrift store in Aspen.”

It is vitally important that we call out racism when it occurs, and take the opportunity from its exposure to examine our personal biases.

These students and their adviser didn’t say anyone in particular is a racist. They just conveyed the experiences they were having in our communities, which reflected the racial prejudices that are validated by our very White-centered society, both locally and nationally.

Hopefully, these students will have enough positive experiences at Colorado Rocky Mountain School and elsewhere in our communities to leave feeling like they made the right decision in coming here. I fear they will instead depart with the idea that our communities are not safe for people who aren’t White. 

It is easy, as some letter writers subsequently did, to deflect blame. It was a busy day. They misspoke. The students didn’t understand what was being said. There were 3,000 people in Redstone for the Fourth, so who knows who really did what? None of these are excuses for the behavior that these students have experienced. 

The challenge for White people like me and so many of the people who live in this valley is to set aside our defensive responses, our fragility on the issue of racial prejudice, and examine the prejudices that we have.

It is an opportunity to think about and even read about the experiences of people who are not White, and the daily encounters they endure that make them feel unsafe and unwelcome.

Allyn Harvey