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