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If only we’d take the time to listen

By Jan Miller Penton

I remember in the 70’s when I was in high school and a young, black man had car trouble near our home. If you have been reading my column for a while you may remember that my brother reached out to help this young man against the wishes of a police officer. It was a sorry state of affairs and my first time to be aware of institutional racism.
Our personal story of this incident had a happy ending. When a wrecker driver tried to tow the young man’s car my brother, Paul, who was only in high school insisted that the car not be towed away. You see the intent was to tow the fellow’s car out of town even though he had called his parents from our home and was only peacefully waiting for them to arrive.
Actually, the wrecker driver refused to release the young man’s car, but after much heated conversation he towed it to our front yard where at least the young man was safe. I remember how upset and angry I was to find out that a police officer had called the wrecker all the while pretending to want to help.
What would have happened if my brother had not intervened? I really don’t want to think about it, but in light of recent events I realize we have to think about the ugly sin of racism. At the time that this occurred I was very small, but I remember burning with fury at the injustice of what had occurred. I remember thinking, I’m just a little girl, and nobody will listen to me. I wanted to expose the policeman involved and the wrecker driver, but all I knew to do was pray for the young man and his family.
These events occurred many years ago, but I never forgot them. It is not hard to believe that evil lurks with us today. It has always been so, but good people have to speak out against evil. I know that most law enforcement officers only want to serve their communities and feed their families. The horrible acts of a few should not cloud our vision to the fact that many good men and women put themselves in harm’s way each day to serve and protect.
Am I angry about what happened to George Floyd? You bet I am. Am I angry with the few unscrupulous protestors who turned what should have been peaceful and orderly events into mayhem? You bet I am. Good men and women everywhere must hold those accountable who would destroy our country.
I’m not ashamed that tears flow down my cheeks when I think about the hatred and violence in the land my Daddy shed blood for in WWII. I know he would shed a tear also if he could see the events of recent days.
We must all stand together for equality and justice. Without it, we are ruined.