LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Discussion needed on racism

Jun 4, 2012

Both Mr. Tyler and I know racism. Racism, however, did not just pop up in Grand Haven within the last three and a half years because of President Obama and Erik Holder; a connection Mr. Tyler seems to be making. This was not so much an opportunity for Mr. Tyler to promote a conversation on racism as it was to promote a political agenda.

There are far too many levels involved in racism to be discussed in a couple of letters to the editor. However, Mr. Tyler’s letter and the turnout at the May 16 forum at the Community Center clearly shows the desire of area residents to discuss racism. Discuss, not debate. Debating only allows both sides to dig in heels on positions while using shrill inflammatory terms and phrases to win points with supporters. Discussion offers understanding.

I have been associated with the Institute for Healing Racism, as a participant and as facilitator, for 12 years. Grand Haven at last has an opportunity to lift this unspoken shroud that has covered my lovely harbor town for my 64 years.

There are organizations like the institute, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance and The Oneness of Humankind that can be called on to aid in the conversation. These organizations provide safe environments for people of goodwill to openly discuss racism. Nothing will be settled with unorganized heated statements over coffee at local establishments. That neither creates a safe environment for discussion nor an opportunity for education.

Everybody can now see the elephant in the community. We cannot control it by not talking about it. We cannot make it go away by pointing fingers. We can diminish the size of its footprints and the stuff it leaves behind as it walks around our community.

I’ve seen this community come together for boardwalks and schools. Come on Grand Haven! Let’s begin the conversation.

— James Bol, Grand Haven

 

Comments

opinionscount

Mr. Bol,
While I understand your concern for equality, I also understand the concern from the citizens of Grand Haven who desire to preserve the innocence of this great city. Cultural diversity is acceptable as long as it doesn't bring with it a decline in the quality of life, as well as the demise of a safe community. Just be sure before you point fingers to those who have a legitimate concern and call them "racist" that you are indeed informed of their intentions. It's one thing to look down on someone because of their cultural background or color of their skin. However, it's totally different to have a concern as to how a certain stereotype (or culture) might possibly cause a rapid deterioration in the over-all well-being in the community due to their choice to live a destructive lifestyle. Mr. Bol, did you by chance walk the beaches last weekend and observe the various visitors that were making their mark on our beaches over the weekend? The tourist are changing, and it's not for the better. It's not racism, Mr. Bol...it's earned concern. It appears that you've had the wonderful opportunity to be brought up and grow older in this quiet, peaceful, "Mayberry" style community.
We would all like that very same thing for ourselves, as well. More importantly, we desire it for our children.

LakerVille

This is such a racist comment, I am shocked at this. All I can say is WOW.

AtomicRooster

Dear Southerngander. You couldn't of said it better with your blog here and I salute you. Grand Haven has changed and I might add not for the better. It's not "Mayberry" here anymore. And whether you want to live in a state of denial I guess that is your business but believe it or not there IS a bad element moving into the area. And it's not going to get any better. I too had the displeasure of seeing the various visitors that were making their mark on the beaches over the weekend. All the recent graffitti that has been surfacing as well. These are all the signs of a BAD element getting into the area. Candy coat it anyway you want. There's a storm on the horizon whether you want to believe it or not.

opinionscount

AtomicRooster. Yes, you are exactly right. A storm IS on the horizon.
It's time for the GHPD to step it up several notches and apply strict enforcements regarding what is and is not acceptable and to take preventative actions that send a clear message that the destruction and demise of our quiet, wonderful city will not be tolerated.

AtomicRooster

RIGHT ON SOUTHERNGANDER!! You just hit the 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded with 2 outs right out of the park. GRAND SLAM! The GHPD needs to step up to the plate and crank it up a few notches and apply strict enforcements regarding what WILL NOT be tolerated and take preventative actions that send a CLEAR message that the destruction and demise of our quiet wonderful city will not be tolerated. We certainly DO NOT want to become a carbon copy of Muskegon and Holland.

Vladtheimp

I'm confused by several points in Mr. Bol's letter (Discussion needed on racism) in response to my letter of May 21. I simply attempted to point out that racism is not restricted to one race, and that political leaders siding with one race can be a catalyst for others reacting similarly.

Mr. Bol seems to say that I blamed the current administration for a specific act of racist graffiti, and that there was no racism in Grand Haven prior to 2009 which is simply silly. Interestingly, while grandly emphasizing the importance of discussion rather than debate he eschews discussion by debating that the purpose of my letter was to make a political point; training as a “facilitator” seems to qualify one as a mind reader – not such a stretch if you have dealt with facilitators as I have in my 67 years on this earth.

I was not going to respond to the letter until, upon a re-reading, I realized it actually promoted some strange and, I believe, wrong-headed assumptions. Apparently in Mr. Bol's world, there are so many “levels” of racism that we cannot discuss them in letters to the Editor, or, apparently, at work, in bars and restaurants, or even in social gatherings – it can only be discussed within selected organizations that provide a safe environment for discussion and education. Horse Hockey!

We are Americans. We are fully capable of having discussions (and even debates) and informed positions based on our experience and intellect without facilitators “educating” us in safe environments promoted by a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization.

If readers really want to know about where Mr. Bol is coming from, they should Google “ Institute for Healing Racism”; “The National Resource Center for Racial Healing”; “Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance” and “The Oneness of Humankind. “

Speaking only for me personally, I'd much rather have debates with my family, friends, and neighbors. If I needed a safe environment for discussions of racism it wouldn't be in Grand Haven – it would be in Queens, New York, Philadelphia, or Washington, D.C. and their environs. I can't speak to Detroit since I haven't lived there.

Chuck Tyler
14730 Lakeshore Drive
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Lanivan

Your assertion, Chuck, that in your Letter to the Editor of May 21 you were simply attempting to point out that...."political leaders siding with one race can be a catalyst for others reacting similarly" is just another way of spouting GOP propaganda. Early on in the original letter, you are quick to blame president Obama for local graffiti by stating, "Local graffiti is the predictable result of President Obama injecting himself into local issues....". You continue to back up your argument by using as example nationally known people you claim are racist towards others, thus being responsible for racism in our country on a local level: Attorney General Eric Holder; Democrats in the House; Jesse Jackson; Al Sharpton. You end your letter saying, "I also hope that the media finds and identifies racists who have a more national reputation". A lofty goal on the face of it, but one must wonder why, of all the nationally recognized people you could of selected, you chose all Democrats. The resounding answer is that your letter is not an authentic attempt to discuss the problem of racism in our country and it's effect on local problems, but simply another way to disparage and vilify Democrats......especially black Democrats. Oh, and by the way and although this might seem random and off-topic - but isn't, I'm "blaming" Obama for the much-needed fall in gas prices- filled up for $3.50/gallon yesterday - Thank you President Obama!

opinionscount

There are greater concerns that coincide with the Obama Administration than the price of gasoline.
There were 48 Million babies aborted (murdered) in 2011...under Obama's administration and with his consented stance that killing babies is an acceptable practice. It is sickening to read such concerned gloating in relation to the price of gasoline, while babies are continuing to be murdered at the consent of our government and a demising society. A spade is a spade. Murder is murder, and those who can turn their backs on the continued killing of the unborn are evil. There's absolutely nothing to thank Obama for but the continued moral decline of our once great nation.

Lanivan

southerngander - you (deliberately?) missed the point of my comment re: thanking President Obama for lower gas prices. Just a few weeks ago there was an outcry that Obama was to blame for rising gas prices, Chuck Tyler blames Obama for racism in our country. Well, I'm blaming Obama for something good - lower gas prices (I'm joking here, because we all know presidents have little or no control over gas prices). So sorry it made you "sickened"! Meanwhile, back to your oddly off-topic comment: first of all, it didn't take much research to discover that there are no figures for abortions in 2011 - the latest compilation was for 2008, when the figure was 1.21 million total - (I'm sure you agree this statistic doesn't carry quite the same shock value as 48 million). Yes, abortions went up slightly in 2008 because the economy was beginning to tank, and abortion figures do rise during economic duress. And a reminder that abortions were legalized in 1973, when Obama was just a young lad. As a devoted Christian family man, what his private, personal beliefs are regarding abortion are not the issue, but that, as President, he must uphold the Constitutional law of the land. Abortions were performed under Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr and Jr, and Clinton - were you just as "sickened" then? You seem very passionate about your opposition to abortion as murder - I assume you are just as passionate in opposing wars that kill hundreds of thousands of innocents, weak gun and assault weapon control laws, the death sentence, the attempt to eliminate the Head Start program and many others put in place to nurture our young at-risk and needy children, and so on. Not so much? Well, that's "sickening" to me.

43°North

48 MILLION ABORTIONS in one year? What a moron southergander! Do you watch Fox (Faux) News? Holy crap, what an ignorant staement!

opinionscount

You obviously didn't do your homework, Mr. North, or else you would have realized that your response would make you the moron. YES. 48 MILLION babies were aborted in 2011.
Do the research and learn a little something for yourself.

LakerVille

Yes there are 48 million abortions a year (Give or take a few million) in the WORLD. It is 1.3 million in the United States. Don't really think you should blame the Obama Administration for the 46 million that occur outside the United States.

Lanivan

Thanks, Lakerville, for giving some facts!! People - we must start getting our facts straight instead of letting ourselves be manipulated with propaganda and outright lies. We owe it to ourselves and our children to seek out the truth on the topic of abortion as well as other things going on in politics these days.

opinionscount

Lanivan, there ARE 48 MILLION babies murdered each year. I didn't state that these statistics were for the US alone, although the mention of Obama Administrations approval of abortions does indicate otherwise...my error in regards to clarity, or, as you call it, "manipulation with propaganda and outright lies". The fact is, Lanivan, that there are extremely serious issues that need to be addressed...far more than gas prices. Once the moral declination of society is addressed, the economic issues will likely begin to improve. There are additional pressing concerns, but the death of an innocent child should be top priority. If you want to give your children truth, why not tell them what an abortion is, explain to them how it is performed, and be sure to mention the legalities of how old the baby can be in the womb when this occurs, and that would certainly be providing truth. It's been said that if anyone ever "witnessed" an abortion, then they would never approve of an abortion. It is inhumane and irresponsible to support any leadership that agrees with the murder of an unborn child.

Lanivan

Once again, Sweethonesty (and I apologize for referring to you in an earlier post as southerngander - and to southern gander!), I reiterate: the discussion centered on racism - your comment objecting to mine was entirely off-topic by bringing up abortion - but, in fact, it helped to prove the point of my comment. Blaming Obama for 48 million abortions, regardless of how you feel about abortions, is an inflammatory, deceptive manipulation of the facts, and is a prime example of the irrational, toxic, unreasonable thinking that is so prevalent in this very partisan atmosphere in our country. I believe people like yourself are repeating lies told to you because your emotions and passions are being inflamed to detract from what you refer to as the really serious issues in this country. We all, and most certainly our elected officials, should be concerned about the health and welfare of all our children, both inside and outside the womb. Our elected officials should be directing their energies to job creation and a stronger economy - because that's why we are paying them their salaries, pensions, and government health insurance. Many studies show that abortions decline dramatically during good economic times. They should be doing all they can to help indigent and sick children in areas of nutrition, education, health. Instead the GOP is doing all it can to eliminate these types of programs. But they don't want to touch any budget cuts to the Pentagon(murder) - even cuts the Pentagon wants!! Again - have you blamed all the administrations since 1973 for the abortions in the world?? That's when women were given the right to make decisions regarding their health and abortion was made legal. And, by the way, don't surmise what I should be telling my children about abortion, or even how I feel about the act of abortion. I do believe that women have Constitutional rights, and that there are many other ways to decrease the number of abortions in our country other than stripping women of these rights.

opinionscount

I corrected myself on not being precise in regards to the 48 MILLION abortions worldwide...and then mentioning the Obama Administrations support for abortion. You either overlooked that or you're throwing old punches. In the US alone, it was over 1 MILLION, under his administration, and, as someone else commented, just one abortion is too many. Do you have a grasp of the concept of how may babies a MILLION are in the US and 48 MILLION worldwide? Abortions are real. They are not lies, it is not fictitious information that is being passed around to manipulate facts, or promote irrational, toxic, and unreasonable thinking. I have obviously hit a nerve with you, Lanivan. Good.
That was my intent. I'm finished with this tennis-match dialogue. You seem to be passionate about a lot of issues. That's good to see and hear. Many people do not care one way or the other. As for my passion against abortion, I will certainly continue to work diligently to get others thinking about every child's right to a life. After you think about it for a while, maybe you'll even start fighting for the rights of the unborn. Although I am completely apposed to your rationale, I appreciate the opportunity to voice my concerns against abortion. Maybe we will run in to one another and butt heads some more on a future issue!

heavymetalrocks

You are the moron dude. One abortion is one too many.

Vladtheimp

'...one must wonder why, of all the nationally recognized people you could of selected, you chose all Democrats.'

My reason is similar to the answer Willy Sutton gave to the question why he robs banks - cause that's where the money is.

jvc

LOL

Lanivan

HAHAHA - you're a hoot! Too bad Willie Sutton, in an interview, said he never made that statement. Just more baloney. Let me come up with some Republicans accused of racism recently since you seem to have a problem with it - how 'bout Alan West (Florida Congressman), Joe Walsh (Illinois Congressman), Rush Limbaugh, and our own Pete Hoekstra (his ad last winter brought a lot of national calls of racism). I could go on and on, but you've got me laughing too hard.

Vladtheimp

Glad I could make your day - I love to make folks laugh - especially those who would otherwise be crying post the Wisconsin recall. Fortunately, Attorney General Holder sent his DOJ minions to ensure that there would be no Republican shenanigans. No word if the New Black Panthers were included in those he dispatched.

To keep you entertained I suggest you ferret out and be offended by all of the potential forms of discrimination, spurious charges of which can be used to make a mockery of our First Amendment rights, such as: "Racism," Sexism", Ageism Classism, Colorism, Genism, Heightism, Linguicism, Lookism, Mentalism, Rankism, Religionism, Sexualism, Sizeism, Speciesism, Weightism.

I enjoy your comments.

dyankee

In James Bol's letter to the editor, I'm convinced that liberalism is indeed, a mental disorder. We have a grown man covinced that Grand Haven is full of racist and we are apparently driving our cars around this "elephant" in the community that I have not yet seen. However, he won't provide us details to his propaganda because there are "too many layers to racism" including of its "footprints and the stuff it leaves behind." What the hell are you talking about Jim? No community can be as successful, productive, safe, and compassionite as Grand Haven has been over the last 100 years by shunning a specific group or ethnicity of people. You cannot name 1 business, 1 city manager 1 mayor, not 1 police officer or fireman, not 1 doctor, 1 mayor, not 1 bar or restaurant, nor a city councilman or marina that has not hired, not welcomed, or barred a person or family from entering or enjoying Grand Haven because of race, religon, ethnicity, or gender. Yet, you spew your reckless assumption that this "unspoken shroud" has covered your lovely harbor town for 64 years!! You clearly, have been indoctrinated into the Institute for Creating Racism agenda you have been apart of for 12 years now. I'm surmising that you're retired and bored to death and need something to do and becoming involved with this re-education camp organziation has become fun to you. However, to keep this horable fabrication going about this community in which you live, you need to throw out this accusation of racism rubbish from time to time and present a premise about Grand Haven that not only does NOT exist, but a community, including myself, that rejects it. Can't you go after the squirrel problem in this town instead of your neighbors?

HavenDude

(sorry, just realized I commented under a post instead of generally)

I love our town. We have a fantastic beach, great parks, excellent schools, good businesses, etc... so, my question is, why do the Tri-Cities lack more diversity? Muskegon and Holland are certainly more diverse and our nation is becoming more diverse. So, with all the great things going for our community, why aren't there more people of color? What do you all think? I personally believe that there are probably a number of factors and one of these factors is unrecognized internal attitudes that make people of different ethnic groups feel unwelcome. I suppose the best people to ask are those who are not feeling welcome in the first place.

So, any thoughts on why a great community like the Tri-Cities area is not more diverse? thanks

ThomasLieber

Good to know about this one. I learned a lot from this. Good thing I saw this post. - Mercy Ministries

John M

Go grocery shopping or walking around in the hoods of Muskegon, GR, or Detroit if you want to see racism loud and proud.

In fact go drive around the hoods, then ask yourself, is this what I want for Grand Haven.

Then be honest with yourself.

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