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Is there racism in Southern Oregon?

Have you heard? I read it on Twitter. “There is no racism in Rogue River.”

That’s why local white residents blocked a planned and permitted march and barbecue promoting Black Lives Matter. They seem convinced that crazy Marxists from Portland are going to invade and take their guns and give their jobs to undeserving Black people.

Where do they get these ideas? Apparently from conservative media, which insists over and over that advocating for justice and equality for Blacks is equivalent to tearing down the fabric of our society, and focuses on violent incidents. Donald Trump promotes this same narrative, which is utterly false. Telling such enormous falsehoods is what could tear our society apart.

So people lined the main street in Rogue River to protest the idea that there would be a protest against racism. They wrote on Twitter, “Don’t expect to leave the way you came in. In other words, severely beaten or dead.” “Vroom, vroom! Run them over!” “They are coming for us who live in the country. And we better be willing to give them our homes or they will burn us out.” “Their gonna be taken out in 1 Big Whack!” “BLM WANTS ALL WHITES TO DIE!” “When the dems cheatwe will have a civil war.” “I’ve lived in Rogue River a long time and I’ve never heard anyone say or do anything racist in this town.” “I’d be happy to put a bullet in their heads.” “I can’t decide which AR to bring.”

If you live in Southern Oregon and these thoughts do not represent you, you must speak up. You will be vilified by those who are addicted to hate, but you must speak up anyway.

You decide. Is this racism? Is this a tremendous fear of being overpowered by the people who have been systematically oppressed for hundreds of years?

Why are some white people so willing to believe Trump’s incitements to riot? He and others allege that BLM is fundamentally “Marxist” and “violent” because some criminal types have behaved badly in Portland and other cities.

No, the movement for social justice is a peaceful one, a righteous one. The problem is, racist rhetoric encourages people to believe the opposite. And what’s troubling is how eager they can be to believe they are under attack and must bring out their guns.

Calm down, people. Of course Blacks are angry about racism. Racism is real. But no one is coming to hurt you in your peaceful little towns. Pay attention to how you’re getting riled up by false, inflammatory statements.

I pray daily for peace in our country.

Maureen Hicks lives in Ashland.

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