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Race Forum

Race Forum 

Dear readers,

The Westside Gazette is breaking our normal format and printing a “Town-Hall” style forum on race relations, consisting of a compilation of comments from some of our readers.  In the words of our father and the founder of the Westside Gazette, “This paper will be black, it will be white, and it will be read.”

We want to and are encouraging open discourse between all people.  We will never come together if we don’t at least attempt to walk in the footsteps of our brothers and sisters of all races.

Thanks to the inspiration of one of our courageous writers, Don Valentine, we are embarking on a much needed racial dialogue. This conversation is about racial views between Whites, Blacks, and Latinos.  One of the issues of concern is “what causes Whites to seem so reluctant to discuss their views of Blacks in an open, candid manner.”

We’ve received responses from several people from various backgrounds.  I think you will find the comments quite educational.  Once you have read the forum, please email your thoughts and comments to  We will not censor any printable comments, and look forward to elevating this discourse.  Let me encourage all of our readers to be forthright in your comments!

Yours in the struggle,

Bobby R. Henry, Sr.


Don Valentine

Don Valentine

“He Said – She Said”

Race – Relations

By Stephaniee Washington and Don Valentine

     He Said:  Leslie, your alumni from the University of Southern California.  Well acclaimed for it’s academic caliber, but, with a student population of approximately 5% Blacks it is not exactly diverse.  I graduated from an analogous  environment at U.C. Berkeley. There we had a 3% Black population. Tell me why it is so difficult for Whites to candidly communicate with Black people? We attempted a random sampling of polling of White Americans to engage in discussion of their views on race relations.  Since you’re in South Dakota and I’m based in Miami that made for a good cross section of “Americana”.

She Said:  Well Don, White people have an inability to candidly communicate because doing so would imply respect. I teach third year PharmD students. Many of them don’t look me in the eye and have often criticized both my teaching methods and content.  They don’t believe they are prejudice .

So how dare we ask them to address, acknowledge or even understand prejudice and privilege.

He Said:   My view is that White people are “Uber” sensitive to any admission of real time racial bias.  The most offensive thing you can call a White person is “Racist”. That is why I think they treat the topic as “Radioactive” .

Here is another thing to consider. Whites who were neutral before Trump may now be strident to racial diversity. (Especially if they’re Fox viewers.) Whites who haven’t been talked into hating might just play safe and stay mute rather than speaking up, depending on who is asking.

How do we as two educated Black professionals, engage our White peers into this discussion.

She Said:  Open dialogue is only permeable if the recipient is still porous. If one has spent his life learning to hate or being desensitized to the plight of the Black race then the only way to begin such a discussion is through the ear, eyes and still penetrable hearts of the young. The dialog only has a chance if we begin there. It then replaces hate as the learned behavior.


Lois-SteinerBy Lois Steiner

This was just painful to read….so blatantly obvious that all of the racism is on YOUR and your friend’s side. I hesitate to speak for all White people, partly because it is so offensive to read your stereotypical comments. However, if I could speak for my race, I would answer that the reason we don’t engage in your ‘race relations’ dialogue has nothing to do with respect.

Most of ‘us’ just don’t feel the need to explore our differences, since most of ‘us’ actually don’t think of ‘you’ as different from ‘us’. I find it pathetic that so much of your time is spent feeling wronged all the time, and assuming a lack of respect from anyone who doesn’t match your color. ‘We’ go about our lives, happily assuming that ‘you’ are doing the same.

Why is it so important to know what ‘We’ think?!? People who fan the race relations flames are the ones who have no respect, neither for themselves or for anyone different from themselves. That Is Racist.


By Barbara Brink

Well, that’s a pretty strident response. I can see her point to some degree—again, as I said, if you live in a diverse community, you’re less likely to think about other people’s color or ethnic background. In fact, the diversity makes life much more interesting—at least for me.

If you live in a predominantly white community and you’re a minority, then you’re probably going to experience racism on some level because you don’t look like everyone else and you may have different cultural/religious practices that are unfamiliar and perhaps frightening or threatening to the white community. I feel the white expression of rudeness and/or exclusion is really just the fear of the unknown. Of course, there are people who also want to feel they are in a position of power.  Then the issue of respect comes into play. This can happen to anyone, no matter whether you’re white, Black, brown, yellow, male, or female.


Nicole Nutting

Nicole Nutting

By Nicole Nutting

My belief, based on personal experience, is that change starts with children. Whites who were fortunate enough to grow up in a multi-cultural environment don’t really GET what all the hubbub is about, because they never learned to see a color difference and attach negative connotations to it.

Those are the folks who might ask “Why are you whinging on about this?”, because for them it’s a non-issue. Ironically, it’s the Black community that teaches them racism, probably the opposite result from what you may have hoped to achieve with the dialogue. Keeping the race issue front and center isn’t necessarily guaranteed to help the cause, much like repeatedly picking a scab.

“White Fatigue” may play into this too. Many, possibly even most, Whites don’t condone slavery.  Without knowing how to assuage your pain, that feeling of helplessness to change the past is wearing. My own ancestors never enslaved anything but a herd of hapless sheep, so why can’t we just get along in the here-and-now! Getting along IS the ultimate objective, no??

Public sentiment may make a change for the better when all the older racist White men finally pass on. The younger generations are used to seeing mixed marriages, mixed-race babies, and they aren’t stuck in nostalgia for the “good old days” of separate drinking fountains.


Elizabeth-HughesBy Elizabeth Hughes

         The point about real time racial bias being difficult to face is entirely true.   For educated Whites, it is offensive to be accused of racism.    However, that doesn’t mean that they are not guilty of just that. I think the point that this topic is “radioactive” indicates that it MUST be faced.

Trump’s tenure in the White House has heightened tension along racial lines. This is both a horror and an opportunity for change. The idea of aiming to engage the younger population because they are more porous is a starting point. I truly believe that the only way to really understand one another’s views is to engage each other’s experience.  That means seeing below the skin, but also understanding how skin color and life experience has informed that person’s experience.  There is no easy way to do this but head on and one-on-one.

In Canada, we do not seem to have the same degree of racial bias as in the USA, but our history is different. We marginalized Native Canadians, Chinese and East Indian citizens, some of whom came here to work but were denied  citizenship and even paid a “head tax” to enter the country.    Sounds a little familiar, no?


Vince-RussoBy Vince Russo

      After reading that article, I’m sick of  the “Race Card” being played.  Black people should stop complaining about alleged racial bias and dragging out the 400 year old “Original Sin” every time things don’t go your way!

Why don’t you Black people “man up” and deal with the fact that life is not always fair?  Get over yourselves.  Be productive citizens like us regular White folks.

You people need to quit whining about the isolated incidences of police abuse. Check the facts—more White people are accidentally shot by White cops than are Black folks. Don’t even get me started on that bigoted “Black Lives Matter” nonsense. All lives matter. Black people lives should matter more than everyone else?  Give me a break.



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