LTE: Letter to Black America

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By Nadine Murray

The angry white man is terrifying.

When I moved to South Carolina, 30 years ago, a woman told me, “They are still fighting the civil war here.”

That’s absurd, I thought, but I learned that she was right.

My first experience with flat-out racism was startling. I was working for what I thought was a reputable company. 

We were tasked with cleaning out an apartment in an all black complex. My boss put all of the tenant’s belongings in front of the dumpsters, instead of inside, although there was plenty of room. When I offered to help put the items in the dumpster, he got furious. Immediately I realized it was staged. Personal things were out front and center for all the world to see, intentionally making the tenants look filthy. The statement was obvious, he thought he had a right to mortify all of the tenants in that complex. 

I was ashamed to be white that day.

I could tell you many anecdotes about discrimination, but I’ll stick to a few highlights.

I was a poll worker for the Obama campaign. 

Like most of the people I worked with, I liked and respected John McCain, but I was a Democrat. We all, mostly women, were thrilled about working for a change that was long overdue. We were organized, and we were doing well.

The mostly male Republican poll workers were furious because they were not doing well. They keep coming over to our tables, complaining, telling us what we were doing was illegal. It wasn’t. We had lawyers all over the place. But because we were better at getting the voters to the polls, they kept getting angrier.

I had to leave early. Later that night, another worker called. Some of the Republican poll workers tried to run them off the road when they left. 

A lot of times big men in big trucks are big bullies.

I was driving down the highway. A big truck pulled right up to my back bumper.. then pulled alongside me. A man leaned out of the passenger window, up to his waist, so he could throw a cup of coffee at me. I figured it was the ACLU sticker on my bumper.

My friend had an Obama sticker on her car. One night the car burst into flames right in front of the house. She was sure it was the Obama sticker. 

We have learned not to put stickers on our cars.

Free speech isn’t real in South Carolina, not for Democrats. But right up the street in North Carolina, where the governor is a Democrat, good change is taking place. A lot of parks are losing slaveholder names. Also, black art installations, in most places, are being respected. They are not afraid, like we are.

Today, where I live, the attitude reminds me of the 60’s, not what should be in 2020. Over half a century after Martin Luther King Jr was killed, it’s disheartening to know that anywhere in the United States that people are being discriminated against, or being disenfranchised, let alone, killed.

Against it all, still, your direction is aspiring. So many of us are praying for your rapid and peaceful transition.

Here, in South Carolina, the US flags fly everywhere. Republicanism is a religion, but we, Democrats, don’t understand why the economic disparity is so stunning, and human rights are stomped upon. Why is the American flag a symbol for liberty and justice for only some?

And we wonder why they can’t see that when it is so glaring for us.

Please vote.

Respectfully,

Nadine Murray