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Guest Opinion: Is racism also a local problem?

Original post made on Jul 19, 2019

I write this cautiously because I am a white female, and while I certainly have experienced sex discrimination, particularly in the workplace, I have not faced racism.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 19, 2019, 12:00 AM

Comments (17)

62 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2019 at 8:35 am

Perhaps it is time that we stopped being asked race on forms we have to fill in.

Perhaps it is time that the PAW stopped announcing the name of the new Fire Chief and his race.

Perhaps we started looking at people as having two eyes, two ears, two arms and two legs, and looking just like me.

Identity politics and tribalism is getting tiresome. We should stop playing the game.

52 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 19, 2019 at 9:45 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Since I am retired I am able to see what is going on in the political activities first hand and do not need "the Press" and "Journalist" to define what is going on. The Squad from day 1 has taunted and vilified the American scene since their arrival on the scene. [Portion removed.] The fact that they are female has nothing to do with it other than to "protect" them to say anything that they want. They have now usurped the oxygen in the room with their blathering and the D presidential candidates have been taken off the front covers of the papers. And they are challenging their leader Pelosi at every turn. [Portion removed.] The President is not racist, Pelosi is not racist, everyone who disagrees with them are not racist. The word is used to eliminate any objective discussion as to the worth of a project that needs funding. People who call everyone else racist are dividing the country and that is their intention. The word has no meaning in the political scene today other than to eliminate discussion of any project. The people who use that term have no real answers as to good legislation for the American people.
Some background - I grew up in LA when the Mayor was black and he ran for governor. The LAX international terminal is named after him - Thomas Bradley. Everyone was looking at qualifications to do a job - not what color they are. The city had numerous groups that successfully worked and lived in the city - Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, gay - West Hollywood, etc. All working and ood by success - can't win a political election unless you eliminate success.

20 people like this
Posted by Hinrich
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2019 at 7:27 pm

Hinrich is a registered user.

The 80’s were a long, long time ago. Much has changed and in most ways, including acts of racism and exclusion, it’s a much much better world. Any suggestion that it’s getting worse is just wrong. For me, your blog repeats too much of the damaging rhetoric that sows discord - not healing.
I remember MLK and he did indeed hope for a day when people were not so focused on color. I wish the people who focus so much on color would not focus so much on color. I wish people who traffic and profit from charging racism would stop. It’s very divisive.
My aunt grew up frequently starving in a bombed out German city, lived through the bombing, and today, living in an overwhelming liberal USA community is genuinely afraid to reveal that she votes Republican. I have a colleague who grew up in a house with a dirt floor in a village in India protecting her younger siblings from snakes to work her way up to an advanced degree and a very technical job in Silicon valley - who, also, is afraid to reveal her support for republicans. And there are others. Others who fear because they have other ideas. This is really shameful. That would be a worthy topic for investigation.

I think our community deserves to be noted for it’s generally supportive attitudes and deeds (except when their dogs bark and their gas leaf blowers are running). I’m proud that people are far less racist than they were fifty years ago. Hundreds of billions have been spent on minority programs. Why are people peddling fear about white supremicists? Whites have led majority votes bringing more minorities into all levels of government, including two terms for Obama. Hopefully, that sea change will in time improve government, not result in yet more race, ethnic, and gender based caucuses.

In PA we have a far, far bigger systemic problem with what Facebook, etc. are doing than racism. Perhaps the Human Relations department should take a look at that.

14 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2019 at 7:34 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

I hate the burst the bubble - but yes - racism still exists. A year ago, we were looking at rentals and I discovered racism is alive and thriving. Realtors who are showing rentals show very obvious signs of racism. One rental, the realtor made us not enter the home for about 5-7 minutes and wait outside the front door (because another family was viewing it). When she allowed us to enter, she followed me from room to room (perhaps 3 feet away from). I finally turned to her and pointedly stated that I would not be touching or taking anything and she need not worry. She replied that she had promised the current tenant nothing would be moved or stolen. NOTE: She was NOT following around the Australian couple or their children.

At the end, I asked her how to apply for the rental and she curtly stated to email her and she would send me the form. Then she promptly turned her heel and walked 4 feet away from me to the Australian couple who was also standing around and asked them in the loveliest tone, "How do you like the home? Would you like to submit an application? Do you have any questions I could ask you?"

Note: The Australian couple and and our family were similar in ages, and we had children the same ages and same genders.

In the end, it doesn't matter how polite one is, how many degrees one holds, what type of job you have, or that you already own a home in Palo Alto. It doesn't matter if you donate to charity or volunteer and do good works. All that matters to some folks are what skin tone you have.

Why do I say skin tone? Because our children can ONLY speak English and are 3rd generation. They were born in San Francisco. But in the end... what stands out to some folks are the skin and hair colors.

Does racism exist in Palo Alto? You betcha. You can feel it if you are a visible minority. I am of yellow skin tone. I am Asian. I have straight black hair. I speak perfect English and I grew up in America. In the end... all that didn't matter.

18 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2019 at 7:58 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

The real question isn't, "Is racism a local problem?"
My answer to that question is, "yes it is."

The real question is, does it really matter?
Well if you are not a visible minority or a subgroup that feels the impact of racism, in the end, you may be completely oblivious to it's existence.

It's still really not politically correct to be "racist" so even obviously racist folks will not embrace the term "racist" or "racism." They will deny deny and deny some more until they are blue in the face.

As such, racism is systematic and subversive. Underhanded and covert. It sinks and slithers and only creeps about in the dark, in places where it is not viewable or obvious in plain terms. It is found in policies of admissions to private schools that favor nonimmigrants. It is found in admission policies to private schools. It WAS found in legal CC&R clauses of real estate transactions. It's no longer to acceptable to be legally and openly racist. So you will find it covertly affecting behaviors and actions.

If you look for it.. it is there. Usually I tend to let minor racist actions simply roll off my shoulders. However, on the rare occaision, even I feel it's deep emotional intended impact.

RACISM (for those who do not understand it) is intended to make it's target feel POWERLESS. It aims to remove equality and fairness. It is aimed at ensuring a certain group is MORE ADVANTAGED than the rest.

In the end, we are all human, but what racists see are color coded. Their narrow vision can only allow their fears to rule their actions and justify what they do. It is about power, and preserving the way of life as they know it.

15 people like this
Posted by Hinrich
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 8:42 am

Hinrich is a registered user.

#Palo Alto Res - in fairness, there could be many other reasons the agent chose the Australians. Local housing is very competitive. You describe your perceptions but there is no way for any reader to judge. Have you filed a complaint?
Perceptions of acts of racism can multiply in an atmosphere where the term has been overused but, again, whether you were denied a housing opportunity based on race is impossible to determine from your account. The agent’s account is missing.

13 people like this
Posted by PhilB
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 22, 2019 at 2:13 pm

PhilB is a registered user.

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows

Trump is MOST CERTAINLY is a racist, has been for a long time. I am the same age as Trump and grew up in NY. I often heard the expression, "Go on back ..." and that was from people of southern European extraction who were first or second-generation immigrants.

Trump himself has a history of racism going back to the 1970s, when he and his father were found to be discriminating against non-whites for their rental properties. I won't recite more of his history, but I will note that most NYers then and now despise the man. "Society" doesn't accept him for obvious reasons, and he has a huge chip on his shoulder about that. (Which is why he opposed the Gateway project to improve rail service on the Northeast Corridor around NY.)

I was in La Guardia Airport (in NY)about 20 years ago in the departure lounge. Trump showed up with some over-dressed woman. I was surprised at just how much people there were making fun of him, shouting out insults and mocking him.

18 people like this
Posted by Fair Reporting Please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Fair Reporting Please is a registered user.

Ms Diamond & most of the media cynically discard the latter part of Trump’s statement in order to falsely prove the point they want to make. Trump told them to go back to where they came from, fix the broken systems there, and then ***return and show us how it’s done*** (his tweet, so you can read for yourself: Web Link). That’s very different from simply reporting Trump saying “go back to where they came from,” as this article does.

Tact is not his strong point, but does that excuse only half his statement getting quoted?

Charges of racism can’t be taken seriously if there is such deep bias in even reporting the simplest alleged racist incidents. Thus, anyone who reads the facts for themselves will start assuming most claims of racism as coming from this pre-judged point of view, which is not a good place to be. In the past year, high-profile claims of bigotry subsequently shown to be false such as Jussie Smollett and the Covington kids provide even more reasons to be skeptical of well-meaning progressives rushing to group judgement.

If PA’s Human Relations Commission gets more involved in local claims of racism, I’d suggest they make a strong effort to be fair in their outlook and not confuse disproportionate representation of (say) race in crime with bias. Look at poor Mayor Pete who is clearly mouthing the “systemic racism” line that’s expected of him as a Dem candidate in response to the shooting of a black man by a white officer in South Bend, thus condemning before investigation his own police dept, which I hear is causing loss of morale in that dept. We do not want to try to sow similar lines of discontent within our community.

2 people like this
Posted by That User Name is already
a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2019 at 2:44 pm

That User Name is already is a registered user.

> ...which I hear is causing loss of morale in that dept.

Wow, @fairreporting, that sure is FAIR REPORTING! Besides being off topic (local? do you have links to substantiate the claim? Smollett and Covington?)

Sort of like posters who say: some people say the President used racial epithets when the cameras were off! (see how that is done?)

>return and show us how it’s done

No. Saying that after a racist statement down't negate the racist statement.

> We do not want to try to sow similar lines of discontent within our community.

Geez, really? Right out of the Jim Crow playbook. "We don't want to make folks uncomfortable, ya heah?"

12 people like this
Posted by Fair Reporting Please
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2019 at 3:05 pm

Fair Reporting Please is a registered user.

@That User Name is already:

Mentioning similar other high-profile new items was fair game, I think, since this article used the Trump incident as a starting point.

Since you asked, here are links:

Police morale being affected by the public automatically assuming they are racist is hardly specific to South Bend, but here are some recent interviews with South Bend officers: Web Link

Jussie Smollett hoax. See media links (NYT, etc) at the end of this opinion piece: Web Link

Covington kids hoax. See media links at end of this opinion piece: Web Link. Straight away I’d noticed that the Native guy’s claim they chanted “Build that wall” wasn’t at all substantiated by the extensive video taken of the incident.

Do your own research as best you can. Don’t assume Fox, the NYT, or others are right (or wrong). Research broadly, and read skeptically. Peace.

4 people like this
Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 22, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

We all have our biases. We all need to work within the system which is good, bad, and indifferent. It is a very slow process to change the system.

5 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 26, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

When we bought our house on Ross Rd in 1963 our larger extended neighborhood (Adobe Meadows) was already pretty well diversified, well integrated, and a close knit community. Most of the homes in our immediate neighborhood were tract homes built by Brown and Kaufmann in the late 50’s. Young families with kids were anxious to meet their new neighbors. In our general area we had three African-American families, at least one Indian family (they lived across the street from us), and many Asian-American families of Japanese and Chinese ancestry. Most of them lived around the corner from us on Nathan Way.

We were diverse in many other ways, including religion. There wasn't the stark problem of today…income and wealth inequality...either. Teachers, engineers, gardeners, lawyers, doctors, small business owners, and a couple firemen were all able to buy homes in this neighborhood. We made it a point to meet our neighbors, and we had blocks parties which brought us together. A
very active PTA at Ortega Elementary School brought us together also. There was a group…I’m not sure of their name...but I’ll go with “Welcome Wagon” just because it has a nice ring to it…that provided a welcome party for newcomers. Nonworking wives, and they were the majority backthen, visited with each other almost daily. And they had a babysitting co-op that worked out very

I think, for the most part, tolerance and diversity still exist, but the neighborliness aspect is gone. Most of the original owners have moved away, or died. And sad to say, our neighborhood has changed so much over the years, and forever. There are many cases where home owners don't know their new next door neighbors. That is sad. I make it a point to at least greet and welcome
new neighbors.

8 people like this
Posted by Concerned In Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Concerned In Palo Alto is a registered user.

> I am a white female, and while I certainly have experienced sex discrimination, particularly in the workplace, I have not faced racism.

^^^ White people generally don't face severe or subtle racism in a predominantly white society.

It is usually directed at people of color or from different cultures.

This will change over time as America is becoming more diverse ethnically & culturally.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 1, 2019 at 10:34 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by JR Winslow
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 1, 2019 at 11:45 am

JR Winslow is a registered user.

Racism or ethnocentrism (call it what you like) is usually generated by a predominant or ruling group.

In America & Western Europe, racism and/or ethnocentrism generally stems from a sense of white superiority in terms of culture & IQ.

Thus the previous colonization of many societies throughout Africa & Asia...though access to cheap labor & raw materials also entered into the picture.

The only Asian country that was never colonized was Japan & that was probably due to their inherent sense of cultural & ethnic superiority over other Asian regions & populations.

The concept of a superior mentality (though sometimes delusional) accounts for much of the subjugation of other people.

America was a white country originally founded by white western European people. So naturally they looked down upon Native Americans, Africans & people from Asia & these became people to exploit.

So yes...America is still a somewhat racist country which is why the Civil Rights Act & Equal Opportunity legislation had to be enacted.

With the emerging diversity in this country, racism has not only become politically incorrect but it is a practice/belief that eventually will only be condoned or advocated by truly ignorant white people.

6 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2019 at 12:18 pm

pearl is a registered user.

I'm not sure race is always the prime issue. It has been my life experience that cultures often clash. For instance, lower-, middle- and upper-class cultures, regardless of race or ethnicity, generally do not hang out with each other. And, I (blue-eyed Caucasian) hark back to my work experience with fellow employees from the South Sea Islands and the Philippines, keeping their distance, not interacting with me any more than they had to. Ditto black co-workers to some extent. Their reaction to me surprised me and made me sad. But, I thought it highly possible they had been discriminated against due to their race or ethnicity, thus they did not closely interact with others who were not of their race or ethnicity, which I could understand.

3 people like this
Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 2, 2019 at 12:55 pm

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

> White people generally don't face severe or subtle racism in a predominantly white society.

> Racism or ethnocentrism (call it what you like) is usually generated by a predominant or ruling group.

^^^ This pretty much sums things up. There is far less racism in homogenous societies where people tend to share similar physical appearances.

It's more of a problem in countries having ethnic diversity.

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