Stuart wrong; commissioners’ move on vaccine metric is racist

In Maria Stuart’s recent post “Vaccine resolution nothing but a politically motivated move by commissioners,” she writes:, “Now, I don’t know if the commissioners are racist or not. Even if they are, racism has nothing to do with the resolution they passed; the move was purely political.”

I definitely agree that the resolution was highly political.

However, its impact is racial. Abandoning the Social Vulnerability Index as a guide to vaccine distribution would lead to a disproportionate number of deaths of Blacks in the counties that surround us. If a resolution has a racist impact, it is, de facto, a racist policy recommendation.

In addition, to attack the SVI some Commissioners characterized all non-English speakers as non-Americans. That is a racist statement.

Today racism is deeply embedded in politics of many (but thankfully not most) conservatives. This kind of thinking led to such racist public policies as redlining and similar loan policies that kept our county from having any significant diversity.  Today there are still remnants of such policies of exclusion in our county.   If we love all people as our brothers and sisters, we need to abandon the racist language, implicit biases and systemic racism that hurt people of color every day. Only then can ALL men and women be equal.

I am not talking about overt racism here.  You do not have to wear sheets or holler “N ——” to support racism. To be complicit, you just need to be defensive, keep your eyes shut to and be silent about the systemic and implicit racism in our nation and communities.  Silence in the face of racist language and policy is complicity in that racism.

Until recently, ignorance and silence about race was also my “MO.” My “conversion” from being a “silent non-racist” to being “anti-racist” was aided by completing a 21-day Racial Equity Challenge. It was very similar to the one that was recently completed by some county employees and others in Livingston County. You can learn about this through the Livingston County Diversity Council and United Way.

Or, if you’re not ready for a 21 day “deep dive”, but would like to better understand how many Whites think they understand race, but haven’t really been informed or honest with themselves, watch this 20 minute video and see if you recognize any of the points being made. Deconstructing White Privilege | The United Methodist Church (umc.org)

If you don’t believe that you have any implicit biases watch this 5 minute video and think what your reactions would be. (33) What Would You Do? Bike Theft (White Guy, Black Guy, Pretty Girl) – YouTube

If I you don’t believe there are horrific impacts of racism on Blacks, including children, watch this video.  When I was the impact on Black toddlers, tears rolled down my face. (33) JACQUELINE BATTALORA talks about how white supremacy permeates all aspects of American society – YouTube  (5 min.)

I am not saying these things to accuse anyone, but to encourage them to develop a deeper understanding of the realities of racism and its impact on our black and brown brothers and sisters.

Leo E. Hanifin
Brighton Township

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