2017-08-24 / Opinion


A Call for Unity and Understanding

To the Editor:

The Newport County Branch, National Association of Colored People, is most saddened with the recent episodes of violence and demonstrations of racial and ethnic discrimination in this country. While the branch recognizes the right of freedom of expression, even if it makes a point that is abhorrent to our values, we deplore the manifestation of hatred and bigotry that has marked these incidents.

We cherish freedom of speech as a basic tenet of our Constitution, but speech is not without limits in a civil community. For example, we realize that we cannot be so reckless as to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. So, too, we should not be waving a flag with a swastika emblazoned on it, because that symbol represents hatred and bigotry and incenses people.

The state of Rhode Island has a long and proud history of tolerance and acceptance of people of various religions, cultures and ethnicities. We live in a diverse society that has made considerable progress in achieving social justice and racial equality.

Still, we cannot let ourselves be lulled into believing that we have established the Beloved Community that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so eloquently described. We also cannot think that these problems just exist and transpire down South. So, we all have a responsibility as citizens of this great country to do more in interacting with others of differing beliefs.

In addition, we must also speak out when there is such an obvious transgression of the moral code as we saw this week in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hate groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacists have no rightful place in the human dialogue. They represent the very worse in terms of their values and their actions. They divide us when we need to be more united than ever.

The branch applauds the efforts of those people within our community who have already displayed their moral convictions and commitments by organizing rallies and by helping people to come together for the common purpose of increasing understanding and acceptance. The branch also encourages people to continue to work in harmony with one another so that we can all live in a safe, wholesome, thriving community free of all biases and prejudices.

This is a call for peace, for unity, for love, for hope, for understanding, and for our country to stand for equality and justice.

James I. Winters
President, NAACP

The Root Causes of Violence

To the Editor:

The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) extends its sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of Heather Heyer and other victims recovering from the emotional and physical trauma of the recent Charlottesville, Virginia violence.

We condemn the racist, anti- Semitic and unjust actions of white supremacists whose evil is rooted in power, privilege and control over others.

Our agency is focused on the prevention of domestic violence which typically occurs behind closed doors in the home. It, too, is rooted in power, privilege and control over others. But, violence is violence. And violence begets violence. It’s a social injustice that simply needs to end.

The first step is to acknowledge and examine the root cause of the violence. As a nation and as individuals, we cannot pretend that prejudice and intolerance does not exist. We need to look inside ourselves and within our communities, and fully commit to having potentially difficult conversations about racism, sexism, gender or religious bias, hatred, bigotry and rage. We need to challenge all forms of oppression.

For the past decade, the Women’s Resource Center has considered anti-oppression principles to be integral to ending domestic violence. Judgmental thinking and misunderstanding can cause pain and humiliation and propagate oppressive behaviors. At the root of peaceful existence for all life on Earth is respect for all people.

Our hearts are with those who speak out against injustice. We are inspired by the people all over the country who are standing up to and speaking out against the white nationalism and violent acts that occurred in Virginia. As a proud member of the national “Move to End Violence” against girls and women in the United States, the WRC is committed to making the work of eradicating racism a priority in our community. Envisioning a future free from violence starts within each of us acting as agents for such change, leading the way to a better world.

Lori N. DiPersio
Executive Director,
Women’s Resource Center

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