Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Courage and cowardice: Now’s the time to act

By Chris Morris

I begin this commentary stating three facts: Black lives matter; systemic racism is real and deeply woven into every fabric of this country; and it is not safe for Black, African American and persons of color to navigate daily life in the Adirondacks and North Country. Whether it’s the very real possibility of being murdered at the hands of the police, or experiencing daily microaggressions and unconscious biases, life for non-white peoples is often precarious.

Since the death of George Floyd, and subsequent protests condemning and denouncing police brutality, I have sat with my thoughts, searching for something to put in words, carefully considering whether my voice is necessary or if it’s taking up space.

Over the weekend, I watched Saranac Lake High School valedictorian Francine Newman stand in front of her peers, parents and teachers to deliver a thoughtful, forceful and deeply personal speech highlighting the racism she experienced growing up as an Asian American in Saranac Lake.

It was, I think, one of the more powerful statements I’ve heard or read since the brutal murder of George Floyd — penned by a young woman from my community. Newman stood resolutely and gracefully, calling out the students, parents and teachers who subjected her to blatant racism throughout her school years. That is real courage.

The same night that Newman showed what true bravery looks like, one or more cowards painted racist remarks along the train tracks near Pine Street, just far enough from the road to, perhaps, remain unseen by a passing pedestrian or motorist. As someone who uses words for a living, I try not to be repetitive, but this time I must insist: the individuals responsible are, unequivocally, racist cowards.

If you have been sitting on the sidelines, questioning or challenging the validity of protestors and activists, here in the Adirondacks or across the nation, I hope Francine Newman’s speech moves you, literally, to act.

I am not perfect and do not wish to project that I am. I have worked with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative for five years now, and have made many mistakes during the course of that work. I do not feel regret — only the desire to learn, grow, act and do better. The one thing I’ve hedged on is using my voice, but that is no longer an option. It is time for our communities to reckon with the fact that racism exists here and it impacts our friends and neighbors. You have a choice: Look away, or face it head-on. If you choose the former, you are intentionally choosing to turn away from the lived experiences of people like Francine Newman and therefore cannot proclaim to love and celebrate everyone who calls the Adirondacks home.

There are dozens of anti-racism and transformational justice organizations across the North Country and New York state. Learn, donate, volunteer, act — fight and fight again to uphold the freedoms we so often boast about.

I close with a final note, speaking directly to my former peers in journalism: Consider the stories we tell. Keep pushing to tell stories like Francine Newman’s, those of citizens, students, elected officials and even our law enforcement officials — people who are intentionally leaning into the discomfort of this moment by speaking out and grappling with racism and how we can do better. I understand the struggles of working in the media business in 2020, but these voices must be heard.

Addendum: In the interest of full transparency, prior to George Floyd’s murder, I recorded an interview with North Country Public Radio about an organization I perform communications and marketing work for, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. I acknowledge that my challenge to journalists could be viewed, fairly, as hypocritical. I stand by my words nonetheless.

Chris Morris is a member of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative’s Core Team. He was born and raised in Saranac Lake, and returned to live, work and volunteer here.

Photo: Francine Newman, valedictorian of Saranac Lake High School’s class of 2020, from YouTube

 

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at [email protected]




80 Responses

  1. Debra Eisemann says:

    I read her speech the other day. What an amazing young lady she is. I could not help but be angered by the way she was treated by her classmates as well as the so called adults in the school system. They should all be ashamed of themselves.
    Through all that, she persevered. She has every reason to be proud of herself.

    There is so much that still needs to be done to end racism.

  2. Todd says:

    This might be one of the most inflammatory things I have ever read. Your three facts are actually opinions. I won’t argue the first two but you are stating that it is a fact that it is not safe for persons of color to navigate daily life in the Adirondacks or the north country, citing the very real possibility of being murdered by law enforcement. If that is such a fact please tell me the last time law enforcement murdered anyone in the adks or the north country. Inflammatory statements like you made will never bring anyone together, they simply act to divide us. I am neither a troll or a racist, just someone who enjoys what the Adirondacks have to offer me. I am also someone who understands fact verse fiction or opinion

    • Bob Meyer says:

      Whether or not a black person have been murdered by police in the Adirondacks, 1; They certainly have been murdered elsewhere! 2; Racism is pervasive in the Adirondacks and it is everywhere in our nation and beyond. Try being in a car with a black man driving that’s stopped by police. It’s a different and far more tense experience, at best, than if all the occupants or the driver were white. To deny this makes one part of the problem.
      Maybe Mr. Morris’s word choice could have been different, but the substance is right on!

      • Todd says:

        It’s not his choice of words its one of his statements that support his thesis.
        “Whether it’s the very real possibility of being murdered at the hands of the police”. It is simply not true or a fact. Do you really think the police are out murdering people of color? If that was the case all of our police, and elected officials including the Governor should be removed immediately for permitting this to occur

    • Pablo Rodriguez says:

      Pretty much anyone. Massena, North Hudson, Indian Lake all have state police killing unarmed citizens within the last 10 years and making up stories to say it was justified. Google it. Indian Lake was within the last year.

      • Todd says:

        So you have information that the State Police murdered people and then made up stories to cover it up. Hard to argue with the facts you present

      • Monica Heuer says:

        I live in Indian Lake and don’t recall the State Police killing anyone. I googled and found nothing related to your accusation. Source please.

  3. ADKresident says:

    “..it is not safe for Black, African American and persons of color to navigate daily life in the Adirondacks and North Country. ..”
    This is simply not true and there are no facts or actual incidents to back this statement.

  4. Vanessa says:

    Bravo Chris! Thank you for this strong statement. Thank you also for centering Francine, who did something very courageous that she shouldn’t have had to do in a speech celebrating her personal achievements. I am greatly encouraged by the politics of Zoomers, who will inherit a challenging world that we have often failed to make better for them.

    I have two thoughts in reaction. First, I think that beyond examining our personal interactions and helping rid them of bias, it is important to look at how systemic racism impacts the North Country. There are two very easy places to start – 1) the shameful, repeated racist enabling of the congressperson from NY-21, who takes every opportunity possible to show she is more loyal to 45 and his white supremacy than her constituents, and 2) the complex issue of the regions economic dependence on the NY prison system. This latter is an especially tough one, and the only organization brave enough to “go there” as far as I am aware is JBL!, which is fitting.

    It is vital to talk to neighbors and personal connections, but imo just as vital to ask questions like, why is such a big portion of the non-white population in the region made up from folks behind bars? When 45 says something shamelessly racist or openly campaigns with Nazi symbols (twice in like the last month!) – why does your rep not feel the need to comment on that?

    Finally, in regards to talking to neighbors: I would encourage my virtual neighbors who may be made uncomfortable by Chris’s bold words to think hard about whether you, likely older white person, can speak for the experience of non-white folks in the region. No white person can. Keep in mind that Chris, myself and others are moved to speak based on numerous testimonies from non-white folks that have been published here, NCPR, the Post-Star and other regional papers. You can find these testimonies by a google, which is a *really good thing to do before claiming that you know the region is safe for non-white folks.

    In an effort to abide by the mod rules here, I’m not gonna feed any trolls that respond to this comment 🙂 but good faith questions are totally cool.

  5. Naj Wikoff says:

    Actually, Black, African Americans, and person of color often don’t feel safe in the Adirondacks. Ask yourself, if you moved to the middle of Harlem would you feel safe walking about the streets or parks any hour of the day or night? Feel safe in a bar where you were the only white person? A few years ago, two high school seniors, one of mixed race and the other Black, shared what it was like to grow up in Keene. They described the cruel jokes classmates made, and rarely did a teacher notice that it was cruel. They mentioned how people would lock their car doors when they walked by, and the hoots and nasty statements sometimes heard that had been made by people sitting on a restaurant deck. That happens to kids of color in communities throughout our region. I suspect if more kids were given the space like Francine Newman, it would be eye opening for many adults. She is to be applauded. Her remarks should be shared in full in the newspapers, and I think we adults should listen to what our kids are telling us, and then consider what we can do to not just make our kids feel safe, but all people no matter their color, economic status, sexuality, etc. feel safe. That said, I don’t want to diminish his ficus – and that’s that racism does exist in the Adirondacks, that we need to listen to the experience of others, and do the hard work of addressing it head on.

    I thank Chris for starting this conversation.

  6. Sodacker says:

    Your otherwise salutary piece promoting the worthy cause of eradicating prejudice is marred by fallacy and a slanderous lack of logic. You would do better to ratchet down the accusatory finger pointing a notch or two, Mr. Morris.

    • ADKresident says:

      Thank you. This article being posted was very irresponsible and has no validity to back it’s highly accuastorial content regardingy my fellow Adirondack residents and our treatment of blacks/minorities. Disgraceful, IMO.

  7. Zephyr says:

    Older white guy here who has seen racism against people of color and other minorities his entire life in upstate New York and the Adirondacks. I remember vividly and bitterly how black kids were mistreated by my fellow students in kindergarten, grade school, and of course high school. Teachers and administrators treated people of color differently, as did store keepers, and of course the police. When I was younger racism was blatant and open, and under our current President it has emerged into the open again, but it has always been there. People who deny this are ignoring what has been right in front of all of us. We all have to work hard to change and end this.

  8. Cristine Meixner says:

    You lost me at “…the very real possibility of being murdered at the hands of the police…”
    According to “Crime in the United States 2018” issued by the FBI, a police officer is 18-1/2 times more likely to be killed by a black person than the other way around.
    The FBI estimated law enforcement agencies nationwide made 10.3 million arrests, (excluding those for traffic violations) in 2018. Last year 9 unarmed black men were killed by police officers and 19 white men were killed by police officers. This hardly looks like racially motivated police brutality.
    I do agree racism exists on a daily level for people of color, particularly what you call micro-aggressions, which I have witnessed, but I vehemently disagree “… it is not safe for Black, African American and persons of color to navigate daily life in the Adirondacks and North Country.”
    Exaggeration and falsehoods do not advance your cause.

    • Harold Jurewicz Sr. says:

      I grew up inter-city Buffalo, bullying and racism were rampant towards all, white v. Black, Black v. White, Arabs v. everyone etc. I experienced the riots in the 60’s in WNY first hand. As a young Marine (early 70’s) I traveled South to Florida with another friend (young Black Marine) and we were both treated to various forms of racism, sometimes because he was black, and sometimes because I was white. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but terrorism, violence and discretion of our history as a people are not the avenue to advancement. Pointed false representations of reality get us nowhere. Present facts and maybe you will be credible.

  9. Harold Jurewicz Sr. says:

    Just how many people of any color have been murdered in the North country by police?

    • Todd says:

      Thats an easy one : None. The author’s statement is as responsible as saying parents shouldn’t send their children to school in the adks or north country as they will most likely get killed in a school shooting

    • Boreas says:

      Harold,

      I believe your question would be better if you substitute “killed” for “murdered”. Murder implies a conviction.

      But that point of semantics aside, what are the homicide and violent crime rates – of ANY type – in the ADKs vs. the rest of NYS or the rest of the country? Break it down by race if you like. I have always assumed it was lower, but that is just an assumption on my part.

      • Todd says:

        Boreas,
        The word killed does not make Harold’s question better, it changes the whole story. The author picked his words carefully and used the word “murdered” to get a specific response. That is the central problem with the story. He is stating that a certain group faces the real possibility of being “murdered” by the police. More absurd then that is that he states that is a fact.

        • ADKresident says:

          Exactly. The context of the article was ADK focussed and there is no basis for the claims. We cannot apply a national narrative to all localities because the truth is, it’s not happening everywhere to the degree being touted, let alone in the ADKs and to state otherwise without actual incidents is nothing but a false statement. We need to stand against racism for sure and if we are honest, most if not all, already agree with that 100% but we also need to stand against blatant non-truths that do nothing but sow further discord. And there are some statements here that simply are not true and it is totally acceptable to call it out.

        • Boreas says:

          My suggestion was to the commenter, not the author of the piece. I didn’t have the feeling Harold was trying to fan the flames further, but just to put things in perspective. But I have been wrong before.

  10. Vanessa says:

    Hmm, seems like this thread could use some citations. Let’s add them to the mix, shall we?

    A list of non-white folks describing racism and harassment, including by police, in the North Country:

    2020 –

    https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/news/local-news/2020/06/protesters-say-theyve-seen-plenty-of-racism/

    https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/41772/20200629/a-new-black-leader-works-to-build-a-more-diverse-inclusive-adirondacks

    https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/news/local-news/2020/06/tupper-lake-blm-protest-attracts-honks-and-hecklers/

    2019 –

    https://www.newyorkupstate.com/adirondacks/2016/11/adirondacks_racism_black_visitors_faced_harassment_slurs_while_visiting_region.html

    https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2019/02/disappointing-personal-lessons-in-racism.html

    2018 –

    https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/news/local-news/2018/04/whats-it-like-to-be-a-child-of-color-in-the-adks/

    2016-

    https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/32452/are-black-visitors-really-welcome-in-the-adirondack-park

    in which the officer interviewed pretty much denies that systemic racism even exists – https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/32263/20160722/black-and-blue-sheriff-activist-struggle-with-race-policing

    And it’s a shame I found more than one of these, but here are some high profile death threats directed at non-white folks in the ADK –

    https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/news/local-news/2020/06/police-charge-local-man-for-threat-to-shoot-protesters/

    https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/35769/201838/plattsburgh-keene-struggle-with-aftershocks-of-racist-joke (Yes this is a complicated case, but it reflects on the North Country that this young woman apparently **didn’t understand** she was communicating a death threat)

    And that’s with 10 whole minutes of googling! And only from folks who were comfortable speaking to the press. And from the years where as the officer above notes, racism isn’t supposed to exist, right?

    Some of you who are getting awfully *preachy* about your “facts” should really stop and ask yourselves why you keep missing facts and evidence right in front of your faces, year after year.

    • Todd says:

      Vanessa no one said racism doesn’t exist everywhere. Unless one of your citations is about police murdering people of color in the adks or north country they are simply not relevant to what is being criticized

      • Vanessa says:

        Todd, I will address you once to make something very clear, something I find to be a very important fact. You and I are on different planets. I truly don’t understand your reality, and why you choose to keep living in it. To me, it seems like a place full of anger and fear. I’m sure you don’t think so, but again – there’s no common ground between us.

        You’re not engaging me, this author, or anyone speaking their experience here in good faith. Numerous people on this thread are choosing to willfully misinterpret the authors proactive statement. The fact stated is, “it’s not safe” – and I provided plenty of evidence, including a genuine death threat that happened last month.

        The statement about the possibility of murder is just that – speaking about a real, genuine possibility that has been proven reality all over the country. In this thread, presumably white people are jumping over themselves to somehow exempt the North Country from the same systemic and personal racism that exists everywhere. Bravo to the author for cutting through this fantasy in one “triggering” sentence.

        It doesn’t matter how many times some of us question your views of the world, or how much evidence we bring. You choose to keep assuming bad faith and pouring criticism.

        It won’t stop myself or others from speaking out.

    • Sula says:

      Vanessa, thank you for pointing out these articles. As a lifelong summer resident of Keene Valley, I had no idea. Several years ago I took my then-boyfriend there for hunting. He is Guyanese, of mixed Bengali and Caribbean heritage, and he was impressed by how warm and friendly everyone was. Obviously that is not always the case. Those stupid kids who thought it was funny to make jokes about lynching hopefully will have learned a lesson. I feel that social media encourages this behaviour by spreading it to a larger audience, although that’s only part of the problem.

      • Vanessa says:

        Hi Sula – the young woman in question really regretted the lynching comment. She was interviewed in media and issued several apologies.

        To their credit, school officials in Keene convened and had multiple discussions about the most fundamental problem there: how did this woman leave the school system without realizing that lynching isn’t quite (!) something that white people should joke about? Would she have made a Holocaust joke? Etc. It’s about educational priorities – and I think the folks at Keene Central did some good soul searching there.

        What is frustrating on this thread is that some folks are so uncomfortable with the author’s thesis that they are essentially saying people who have lived the reality described are lying.

        In the same sentence as folks are saying, “well we all know that racism is everywhere” – they’re challenging the logical follow up that that racism makes the victims of it unsafe. If we agree that racism exists, then it seems pretty factual to the author and I at least that it makes people unsafe.

        Likewise, not actually a big leap to conclude that if racism in the North County exists, it means the North Country isn’t safe for victims of racism.

        That said, my diverse family and I visit Keene Valley every year, as often as we can. We love it, and most people have been nothing short of lovely. We want to move up there and have these provocative discussions with our future neighbors all the time! …or maybe not :p :p (bad joke alert!)

        My first comment here was meant to address what I think you’re getting at: personally speaking, most of us don’t realize that our emotions and actions are guided by social systems. Racism – especially systemic racism – doesn’t always take the form of someone saying a bad word or being rude. It’s often about who’s experiences are validated.

        If 5 people have a delightful experience being stopped by the cops, and 5 people do not, in my experience it’s only defensive white folks that try to erase the valid critique of whomever is talking if race is a part of the conversation. At what point do we get to say that on average, an interaction is safe? If only 4 people are harassed? 2? Etc.

        • Sula says:

          Vanessa, coming from a diverse family myself–Black cousins, South American cousins, and my late husband and stepsons who are Tibetan (although frequently assumed to be Chinese, because,ya know, all Asians look alike) I’ve found your comments compelling. CorrieAnn and Miles are impressive and courageous young people, as is Francine.

          I have not had a “delightful experience” being stopped by cops. A number of years ago my friend and I were driving home to Saugerties from Woodstock, where he had attended an AA meeting. It was a freezing January night and the road was slick with ice. As we headed toward the only traffic light in town, the light was red, but there was not a soul in sight in any direction, so we slowly eased through the intersection. Immediately there were flashing lights and a siren–the local cop must have been lurking in the nearby parking lot. He approached us with his gun drawn and pointed right at our faces. We were scared. He wrote out a ticket and sent us on our way with only a sour look and nasty comment. We wondered whether had we been Black or Hispanic, rather than the whitest white people ever, how that would have worked out. We figured at the very least we’d have spent the rest of the night clanking our tin cups against the bars of the county hoosegow.

          • Vanessa says:

            Yikes, that’s terrifying :(:( glad you both made it home OK.

            It was many years ago now, but I had a good friend whose husband is Tibetan! They had or perhaps still have a shop in Albany called Little Moon. The Tibetan diaspora in NY is a wonderful cultural addition. Last year I meant a Tibetan working for the parks service at the John Brown Farm 😀

  11. Laurie says:

    As part time residents of the Adirondacks, my husband and I (middle aged, white) have witnessed the following, personally: more confederate flags than I care to count, nazi symbols written in permanent marker in gas station bathrooms, a man attempting to recruit a convenience store clerk to his militia using the “N“ word and talking about the coming race war. A friend of mine, also white, watched a black man be publicly harrassed while shopping at a local outfitter and told “you don’t belong up here” and “go back where you came from” while everyone in the store, including the employee ringing him up, stood by and said nothing. Racism is alive and well in the Adirondacks, and if you’re using one sentence in the article above as an excuse to dismiss the entire premise, you are part of the problem.

    • ADKresident says:

      No one denies racism exists….no one. And it’s disgusting to see the few idiots being branded as the majority just because the demographics are mostly white in the ADKs.
      Has the author of this article or maybe the young girl giving the speech or even my fellow ADK residenta ever driven through (let alone walk) through some parts of Mississippi or Louisiana…or maybe accidentally wandered off a bit on the outskirts of New Orleans? Let me tell you, if you are a white person, particularly blonde, it is not a safe place to be. So it goes both ways but we never hear about that, let alone want to admit it because it doesn’t fit the popular national narrative.
      So, if we want to be fair when it comes to racism, the ADKs would not be the ideal poster child to use. There are far more ADK residents welcoming everyone than the fringe who are intolerant. It behooves me to think that because I have white skin that I need to carry a false sense of guilt being projected by other whites and if I don’t I’m part of the problem. I, along with others can stand in confidence without being vilified that we welcome and embrace all.
      BTW-
      I’d love to hear how you eradicate racism entirely, everwhere. Particularly when it’s a heart issue.
      That would be an act of God for who has the power to change a heart. No one.

    • Vanessa says:

      Thank you Laurie, for both your comment and recounting these stories. It’s important for us all to hear them.

  12. Bob Meyer says:

    Vanessa states the reality. All equivocation, modification, denial, obfuscation etc is more proof that we have a lot of work to do to get to a more equal, at least less, hopefully non, racist society.

  13. Zephyr says:

    The reality is that being murdered at the hands of police has been shown and proven for all the world to see recently. Parsing those words to mean just in the Adirondacks is just distracting from the fact that a person of color driving to the Adirondacks would not feel safe, and yes even if not murdered they would be subjected to racism throughout the region. I see it all the time. If you don’t you are not looking. Unfortunately, it is the same most places in our country. I believe the point of this article is that those of us who view the Adirondacks as a special place must realize that it is not separate from the rest of the world in many ways, and also suffers from the same plague of racism that has held our nation back for hundreds of years.

    • Boreas says:

      Well said!

      I believe racism and its cousins bigotry and prejudice are to some extent instinctive and to a greater extent taught and learned through the generations.

      I believe we are instinctively wired to be apprehensive about individuals unlike ourselves. This can not only be skin color, but even language, beards, and red hair! When these apprehensions are supported and solidified at an early age by the racism and prejudices of our parents and family circle, they become virtually hard-wired into our psyche. Expecting people to switch off these now ingrained prejudices later in life is almost impossible. Our rational brains may be able to, but not our deep psyche. When leaders come along that enable these darker emotions, the society itself is in danger. Stamping out segregation and Apartheid just turns down the flames but do nothing to put out the smoldering fire.

      I believe racism, bigotry, and prejudice will not be stamped out with legislation and demonstration. It will require generations of people teaching their children at an early age not to fear or prejudge. Whether this can be accomplished remains to be seen. We need to be properly motivated to do so over those many generations. Perhaps the view of a global society will provide the motivation, but perhaps it will only fan the flames.

    • Vanessa says:

      Well I can’t help myself so here’s one more thought. (This is what an upstate NY liberal arts education produces, kids – pontification equal to tuition dollars paid ;p)

      The sentence that sparked the most emotion and debate here was deliberatively provocative – which is a strategy. For better or worse, seems to have been effective!

      The overall political feel for the ADKs as a region seems very “purple” in the sense that folks do search hard for common ground and shy away from provocative rhetoric – at least from the left (and let’s hold that thought for a sec.) Seeking unity, civility and reconciliation is, of course, super important!

      But it is very hard to seek unity in a situation where your basic safety is in question. IMO Chris’s strategy in deciding on the rhetoric for the piece anticipated that different folks would have different ideas about how safe & welcoming the region is for non-white folks.

      In writing a sentence to provoke thought, perhaps he’s trying a healthy way to counter-balance the “provocative” right, which chooses to wave confederate flags and whine about “race wars” in such a way that *also* provokes very strong emotions.

      Arriving at some “purple” middle ground doesn’t necessarily mean arriving at the exact middle of, say between displaying a confederate flag – which a leftist like me would argue is quite violent – and saying that an ADK cop would murder a black person (also a scary and extreme thought! Again for the folks in the back – NOT what was said in this article).

      Arriving at a middle ground means the genuine recognition of safety for everyone. Chris got us to to think about this idea efficiently. It may not be the most “civil” way to write an op-Ed, but I do trust that he has concern for everyone’s safety at heart. This includes law enforcement, btw, who are also helped by bold antiracist work.

      As the leftist slogan goes – none of us are free until all of us are free. A fitting slogan to think on today. Happy Independence Day!

  14. Margaret says:

    Just recently, the term “Systemic
    Racism” has become the new religion. Anyone questioning the validity of this dogma, is a RACIST. It is now considered a fact, despite the FACT that in 50 years our country has made tremendous strides in combating real racism against people of color. It is now evident that racism is a two way street, as well. When some posts refer to “older white people” that is racism. That means that everyone is racist; white, black, brown etc.. Now, it has come to the Adirondacks. State police who “murder”, graffiti found on restroom walls (resident graffiti or visitor graffiti ?), people who lock their car doors (really? we drive with our car doors locked most of the time). The more diversity is emphasized, the less inclusive we become. Once upon a time, this country was described as being “a melting pot”.
    That was the point. It is time to stop calling each other Black, White, Brown or Red but to call each other Americans. When the media, the protesters, the professors, the politicians stop using those terms and using them, for their benefit, to promote their agendas, we will all be better off. Then the real discussions can begin. And, Vanessa, your comment about the congressional representative speaks volumes and injects a certain political bias as well. You begin to lose credibility.
    My personal history reveals multiple ethnic ancestry, religion, and yes, people of all colors within our family. I am a 20 year resident of the Adirondacks. Recent events in this country, as it struggles to solve a real medical danger to our population, are not improving the health and well being of any citizen. The Adirondack Almanac is changing. That is obvious.

    • Boreas says:

      “When the media, the protesters, the professors, the politicians stop using those terms and using them, for their benefit, to promote their agendas, we will all be better off. Then the real discussions can begin.”

      We shouldn’t need to wait that long.

      • Vanessa says:

        I hear there’s this guy named Godot that we can wait for… …

        Lol I hope this joke is in the spirit of yours, Boreas.

      • Zephyr says:

        So sad, but it happens all the time, and most of the microaggressions never make it into the news. A good friend of ours of color moved away from what is considered a progressive town on the edge of the Park because she did not feel welcome and worried about her daughters growing up there.

      • Vanessa says:

        Yeah, I saw this this morning and have been in touch with some folks. This is a real damn shame, and like Zephyr says, happens often.

        This topic could use its own separate column complete with contentious comments section (juuuust kidding). My real point though is that it is especially challenging for the folks whose lived experiences are so public and publicized.

        I am very sad for Nicky, and I hope we can keep working together to do better, and make the ADKs better, so that no one receives death threats for speaking their truth.

    • Vanessa says:

      Now that’s a whole lotta “yikes” :(:(

      But I’m glad he was caught and arrested!

  15. Bob Meyer says:

    As has been said here before and is UNDENIABLE: If you think racism is not pervasive in the North Country as it is everywhere else, you are in denial of reality and part of the problem!

    • JohnL says:

      I hate it when people say their side of the argument is ‘undeniable’. It’s almost the same as saying it’s ‘settled science’. To me, that basically means they won’t discuss or even think about your side of the discussion. So, when I hear that I automatically know that it isn’t ‘undeniable’ or ‘settled science’. Guess that makes me ‘part of the problem’ too. Huh Bob?
      P.S. Define pervasive.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        John L
        So what are you saying? That’s the prevalence of racism everywhere in America including the Adirondacks and North Country is debatable? Really? And that anyone who says its an undeniable fact proves that it is debatable, that its possibly not true?
        Huh John?
        Define denial.

        • JohnL says:

          I asked you a question first Bob and that question is central to my comments to you. You said racism is ‘pervasive’ in current Adirondack residents. So, my question (again) is: What percentage of North Country residents are racist? 5%, 15%, 100%.

          • Jim S. says:

            Why do you ask a question that you know can’t be answered?

            • JohnL says:

              It most certainly is answerable. I’m simply asking Bob Meyers, what HE thinks the percentage of people in the North Country are racist. Many people here are providing anecdotal ‘evidence’ that they think proves racism is rampant and systemic in the laws of our beautiful Adirondack communities. I’m just trying to find out what he (Bob) thinks. There’s no right or wrong answer here. If you want to weigh in, Jim, feel free to give me a number.

  16. Insularity and closed-mindedness – not scapegoat Albany – is by far the greatest impediment to the economic and cultural flourishing on the Adirondacks and NNY. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. Kudos to the Adk Diversity Initiative for fighting the good fight. And special kudos to Ms. Newman for speaking truth to power, an astonishing act of courage in a small town.

  17. Jack Bryson says:

    So much of this thread boils down to:
    1. Look at how bad it is elsewhere!
    2. It’s not as bad as it used to be!
    3. The entire piece is trash because I disagree with a statement!

    Folks, ask yourself why you’re willing to accept incremental “progress” for fellow human beings. Why you’re willing for your home to “better than” – not “good” and certainly not “best”. Why you’re bending over backwards to deny or defend racism in the North Country.

    White folks, please about the earliest experiences that shaped who you are and how your life turned out: family, community, school, sports, early jobs, dating relationships. Now think about how each of those experiences would have been different had you not been white. Be honest with yourself. Would your teachers have been as supportive, and encouraged you to apply to that college? Would that boss have hired you? Would you have been quarterback, or head cheerleader? If better-paying work hadn’t been available to your parents, would they have been able to afford to live in that neighborhood? Pay for those music lessons? Would that person have dated you, or their family welcomed you with open arms?

    Whether or not you recognize it, you have benefitted from the color of your skin – in ways big and small, subtle and overt, because we live in a culture – a system – that is deeply influenced by white supremacy, and it has shaped and conditioned all of us.

  18. Maralyn Mastwr says:

    Considering the prejudices that were a long part of Adirondack history, I
    was gratified to see residents of the North County rallying for Black Lives.

  19. Charlie S says:

    Racists! You can pick them out of a crowd generally, and it has nothing to do with being black. I have known racists, or have had experiences with them over my years. When I first moved to Florida back in the early 80’s I experienced racism. My New York plates induced hatred in what some would call redneck mentality. No matter what it’s called I don’t forget! People who hate, or have a low regard for, blacks…you can bet they have a low regard for others too whether they be white, red, black or blue. At least this is what I have seen.

    I remember once I was the lone stranger who walked up to a racquetball court in Central Florida, Winterhaven,1980! I hardly knew anybody back then as I was a newbie in that area. I walked up with my racquet and before long there were three others who all knew each other and there I was the fourth man which was a convenience as now doubles were able to be played on a four-wall court, me and one of them against the other two. There was one guy whose arrogance I felt penetrating me from the getgo. It was my New York accent which he didn’t seem to like which I picked up on easily, a wise-ass he was. He was white I’m white but I also was from New York with my obvious heavy accent (which I never knew I had until I moved away from home) which perturbed him he didn’t like it.

    As we were playing the game, out of nowhere I felt a painful sting on my back, I was blasted with the ball instead of the wall being blasted.That hurt! I turned around to see this racist with a big grin on his face as he aimed and struck his mark. I have never forgot this! To this day I don’t know who he was but I recall his attitude clearly. Imagine if I was black and from New York! Surely it wouldn’t have made a difference, but maybe it would have! Racism is racism no matter what, and you can bet on it that if there’s a disdain in people towards blacks there will be a disdain towards others too from these same folk. Hate is hate! Ignorance is ignorance….there’s really no separation of the two they go hand in hand! It has nothing to do with color!

  20. Bob Meyer says:

    Well.. intolerance of others perceived as different sucks, but. as a Jew who has experienced some antisemitism, I’ll just blunt: it’s nothing compared to the racism that black people experience! It’s a fact and we all should be uncomfortable with that!

  21. ADKresident says:

    What is disturbing is that so many people of all races are hopping on a movement they either have no idea what the leaders of BLM’s agenda is or maybe they do but do not care.

    Has everyone actually read through the BLM website or listened to any of the founder’s talk or interviews ? Do people realize that two of the 3 women founders are self-proclaimed trained Marxists who want to totally disrupt the “Western prescribed nuclear family” being 2 are “queer” women ( their words, not mine) and have a disdain for the fabric of America which are traditional families units? They also want to push “villages” that collectively care for one another and defund the Police until it is totally abolished within 5 years. They see themselves to be privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world and want a worldwide black liberation movement … Everything I wrote was mostly taken off their own site or from their own transcribed quotes. This is not my opinion or interpretation- I just wanted to know if it was a group I could support, or not so I did some research. I would encourage everyone to do the same for themselves.

    Do I believe Black Lives Matter? 100% yes. All black lives! Would I stand under a BLM banner after doing my own research and reading what the organization’s founders believe and want to enforce? 100% No!

    If you stand with BLM, so be it. That is your choice and go for it! But please be informed of everything they stand for and who you are supporting because it is not just an organization that is seeking justice for police brutality against blacks. It is far more than that. We say we want “conversation” but do we really? Are we free to disagree and debate issues and still be civil as neighbors? I would hope so.

    I will stand for justice for all, but I will not align myself with BLM because of their overall ideology that I simply cannot support . Nor will I dishonor my country. Never.

    .

    • JohnL says:

      You are spot on ADKResident. That organization (BLM) is totally radical and most people have absolutely no idea what their agenda really is. They mistake black lives matter (small letters) with Black Lives Matter (the organization). Thanks for your posting.

    • Vanessa says:

      Oooooh boy. I’m dead at this post. You read a website. Obviously being queer is terrible. It’s just as bad as black liberation. Why would black folks want to be free? Why would anyone ever be queer? I’m sure you’re an expert on Marxism.

      Obviously, it’s the rest of us engaging with the movement who are the dumb “sheeple,” – of course we haven’t read a website! This comment insulting my intelligence has totally convinced me of the error of all my years of work participating in the movement and meeting dozens of activists in real life… … …

      …ahem. I know you won’t see it that way, but I’m actually not trying to troll here. But how is the above different from calling someone a name or otherwise just saying “your side bad”?

      If you want to convince someone, maybe start someplace besides assuming they’re dumb as rocks, thanks.

  22. ADKresident says:

    Vanessa,
    Is it possible to hold an opposing view in your mind without reacting with an insult or accusation? Is it possible in your world to have a civil debate without becoming emotionally “dead” over someone who disagrees with you? I never said or even implied anyone was dumb. I encouraged being informed because I have asked multiple people if they knew what BLM actually stood for and if they read their platform and the answer was a collective “No”! So, I assume nothing these days.
    Sorry if my support for nuclear families which are, in my opinion, the backbone of healthy communities, my not wanting to abolish the Police entirely or opposing Marxists offends your intelligence.
    But I will not apologize for my informed positions, stand down or be insulted into silence just because it doesn’t fit your narrative and you get defensive as if using my 1st Amendment right to speak is an attack on you personally. . There is room in the ADKs for differing views. I would hope you could at least agree with that.

    • Vanessa says:

      To be honest, I only engaged your other comment for the homophobia more than anything else said. That was what got me emotionally, that you think BLM organizers are bad because they’re “queer.” That’s a great look. 🙁

      But yes, whenever someone loudly proclaims, “but do these people even know the xyz they’re associating with?” – that is absolutely implying that people aren’t smart enough to think for themselves. I’m deeply grateful for the organizers you’re defaming, and of course I’ve engaged with their work a ton.

      I’m not stopping you from speaking. There’s a big difference between censorship, which none of us are experiencing here, and profound disagreement with what’s being said.

      Like I told Todd, many of us on this thread are on different planets, with fundamentally different values. I don’t believe in striving for fake civility and agreement when the values set is so fundamentally different. I don’t know how the situation is resolved, I really don’t.

      But I do know that people who share your views put my friends, my family, Dr Hylton-Patterson and many others in true material danger. I have been attacked, harassed, had my car vandalized (a bunch) and a lot else for exercising my right to free speech. A guy claiming to support “family values” screamed his head off while flipping off my (PoC) husband while we were parked at a red light one time. Our crime was sitting as a couple, quietly waiting to drive to the gym. I guess that we didn’t count as a lawfully married nuclear couple for some reason, I wonder why…

      You’re going to have to forgive me for being “emotional” about my values, when I have had so many people saying the same thing as they literally attack me. Not on the internet, but in real life.

      • ADKresident says:

        Vanessa,

        First off, I am not “homophobic”. That is only your false perception that because I oppose the disruption of the nuclear family, I must then be homophobic. False narrative. False conclusion.

        Second, that is awful you were attacked. I am very aorry that happened. However, I can assure you that coming from “different worlds” , the majority in “my world” are neither violent or go around harassing people in “your world”. Another false narrative, false conclusion. And people in “my world” could say the same thing to you because there are crazy fringes on both sides. But I won’t go there.

        When you falsely accuse of intent and throw insults it is not “censorship ” but an effort to silence opposing views through emotional intimidation, not factual debate. That is exactly what you were doing to shut down conversation you don’t like.

        Having said that, the answer partially is that we still live in a republic . We can civilly debate facts and take it to the voting booth. Or have we all gotten so polarized there is no longer room for tolerance to even listen to each other without a predetermined, biased opinion? That is the real question that can only be answered by looking in the mirror with truthful self-evaluation. Something very hard to do, if we are all totally honest.
        I do believe we all want to live peacefully together as Americans who.share a love for the ADKs among other things but I am also a hopeful optimist at heart.

  23. Bob Meyer says:

    This whole post has become a study in obfuscation, denial, and twisting of the reality of those affected [black, queer, all those who are marginalized in our society]. To John L, your question is not worth addressing. I’ll just say 1% is 1% too much racism. Just ask any black person their experience ANY black person… To ADK Resident; I don’t know where you get your knowledge, but WOW! Marxism? And who defines what is a real nuclear family?
    To all the people who see the original article by Chris Morris as an attack on their “traditional values”; It all sounds like a cover up for intolerance of “the other” as you define it…racism, homophobia, antisemitism; it’s all the same. Make all the excuses you want. It all boils down to ignorance, fear, hatred. Will we ever learn that in unity we are stronger?

    • ADKresident says:

      Bob,
      I told you where I got my information- from BLM’s own website and from the leader’s own words from YouTube public interviews.. . They call themselves “trained Marxists” and support Marxist ideology. Look it up for yourself then give an informative reply because you are obviously ignorant of the truth.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        JohnL, see comments above, below, all around. Personally, I don’t care what a specific website says.. The overwhelming majority of us who agree that Black Lives Matter [& yes, all lives matter] just want to actively support our fellow human beings and we recognize that people of color have been/are being systematically oppressed in our nation and good people of all persuasions HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
        I support the woman’s movement even though there are a minority of people in that movement that hold views that can be construed as antisemitic. I’m Jewish. Should I then withdraw my support?

    • Boreas says:

      FWIW, ANYONE can start a website called “blacklivesmatter” as long as the name is available and you pay the fee for the address. It does not necessarily mean it is an official website of any particular group – even if it says it is. You also have the .com, .org, .biz, addresses to further confuse things. This pirating is much better than it used to be in the early days of the internet since legitimate companies buy all different permutations of their name to keep pirates from setting up a sham site in their name (which is as expensive as it sounds), but the practice still exists for any available name that isn’t taken. For instance, I could set up a sham website and make up any BS I want to. There is no restriction unless the people selling you the domain are legitimate and enforce the truth. Typically, you own the address for a year before it has to be renewed. I have never visited the website in question, so won’t give my opinion. I am just saying that sham websites DO exist – so READER BEWARE. If what you are reading gets your hackles up, it could be a teenager in Latvia, Venezuela, or Russia who put up the sham site to do just that – create chaos and distrust. Sound familiar? The onus is on the reader to be skeptical of sites that don’t seem quite right.

      • ADKresident says:

        Boreas,
        You are correct and speaking my language being I have been in the web/internet field for 2 decades now. My job has given me opportunity to be around those who educate in top cyber security fraud and recognizing sophisticated phishing campaigns. I also have background in setting up web & DNS servers as well as the design of 100s of websites, if not more. I only say this to let you know I am quite versed in recognizing a cloned or “fake” website or email by means of digital deception. I do appreciate the cautionary warning to all.

        Anyhow, if anyone is genuinely interested BLM’s platform, here are a couple links. It is a start to where you can do your own research based off this…. I did not make anything up or have any personal agenda. Just voicing the facts directly from the sources themselves.

        Black Lives Matter official website

        https://blacklivesmatter.com

        Interview with founder on Youtube (the Real News Networkis a BLM supporter, not a critic)

        Short History of BLM

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=kCghDx5qN4s

        7:03 “Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists.

      • JohnL says:

        You’re obfuscating Boreas. Have the ‘guts’ to just say what you mean? If you’re saying the website that ADK Resident is speaking about isn’t THE website for the BLM movement, just say it.

        • ADKresident says:

          Now that I sent the actual links for anyone interested to read/listen from the actual authentic sources themselves, why am I all of a sudden being moderated and my post not showing up?

        • ADKresident says:

          I shall try again under this reply.

          Boreas,
          You are correct and speaking my language being I have been in the web/internet field for 2 decades now. My job has given me opportunity to be around those who educate in top cyber security fraud and recognizing sophisticated phishing campaigns. I also have background in setting up web & DNS servers as well as the design of 100s of websites, if not more. I only say this to say that to let you know I am quite versed in recognizing a cloned or “fake” website or email by means of digital deception. I do appreciate the cautionary warning to all.

          Anyhow, if anyone is genuinely interested BLM’s platform, here are a couple links. It is a start to where you can do your own research based off this…. I did not make anything up or have an agenda. Just voicing the facts directly from the sources themselves.

          Black Lives Matter official website

          https://blacklivesmatter.com

          Interview with founder on Youtube (the True News Network is a BLM supporter, not critic)

          Short History of BLM

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=kCghDx5qN4s

          7:03 “Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists.

  24. Zephyr says:

    This thread is a great example of the problem of racism in the Adirondacks and all over our great country. Lots of people in denial of facts that are right in front of you every single day. Just like Sergeant Schultz: “I see nothing. I hear nothing. I know nothing!” Frankly, I don’t think there is any discussion that can be had with the worst racists, but I hope that just maybe the current movement will force good people who have stood silent to learn a little and work to improve their communities in small ways. A good start might be made in the voting booth this fall.

  25. Bob Meyer says:

    Well said Zephyr..and right on the mark!

    • JohnL says:

      Must be difficult being the only 2 virtuous people north of the 43rd parallel.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        Not even clever or funny!
        You seem to be unaware of the vast majority on this site.

        • JohnL says:

          Wasn’t trying for clever or funny BM. Just true. Look. Zephyr said basically that if I voted for someone he didn’t vote for, I, and everyone like me, must be racist. This is quite possibly the worst thing you can call someone these days (racist) and he applies that criteria? Come on! That may be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Like I said, Bob. Just calling it like I see it. This is my last post on this thread, Bob. Have a great day!

          • ADKresident says:

            It is unfortunate but true. From this thread we can clearly see that everyone in their heart despises and agrees that racism is wrong. However, if you don’t toe the same political line or all agree to stand under the same populous organizational banners because it does not line up with your own personal convictions then you must be or are a “fill in the blank”. Tolerance for all and embracing differemces is the mantra being touted and context of even this original editorial…….Oh wait, until we disagree, on some points that is….then none of it matters and exposed for what it really is- conformity of thought, not the acceptance of true diversity.

          • Zephyr says:

            Why would you vote for a racist? That is a bottom line for me–I don’t vote for racists, period. If you vote for a racist you support their agenda.

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