I had the opportunity to read through the letter from Vince Beaudette last week regarding institutional racism and I was personally offended ("Cudgel of accusations," May 23).

I have heard many Carver County residents expressing their shock at the incidents of racism occurring in Chaska. I am not shocked. It’s been a problem for years and old guard folks argue that racism ended a long time ago; isn’t it time for black people to get over it?

I could sit here and express my outrage further but I thought it best illustrated with a story.

Once upon a time, there were some blue houses in a neighborhood of yellow ones. Each day, the yellow house owners would dump all their trash into the yards of the blue houses. Their owners hated it, but if they complained, the yellow house owners would beat them senseless. Every day garbage filled the blue house yards and it was impossible to clear it all.

Eventually, the blue house folks said enough was enough and they blocked the road so nobody could get home. The yellow house owners tried to beat them up like they always had, but the blue house owners refused to move until it stopped.

Finally the yellow house owners conceded, but the blue house owners still had problems. Their lawns and shrubs were dead from years without sunlight, and the poisons seeped into the foundations of houses, causing further damage. The blue house people tried to fix it, but it was too much.

Meanwhile, the yellow house owners’ yards thrived as they always had, and they started complaining about how the blue houses looked. Since the yellow house owners had caused the problem, the blue house owners asked them for help, but the yellow house owners told them “You’re just looking for a handout. We’re equal now. There’s nothing wrong with your soil or your tools, you're just lazy."

That is what it sounds like when the community elite attempt to justify their failure to acknowledge the generational and societal effects of racism.

It is patently unfair to deny that the challenges my communities face are the direct result of centuries of dehumanization and degradation. It is blatant arrogance for normal people to expect people of color to take responsibility for disparities in societal systems over which we've had no control. You cannot systematically and legally oppress people for three centuries and then say everything is fine a mere 50 years later.

This isn’t about 'white liberal guilt' or revenge. It’s simply an acknowledgement of the fact that until we as a community have the courage to acknowledge the pervasiveness of these types of issues in the community, and have a legitimate conversation about it, then we're really not any better than the yellow house owner complaining about his neighbor's yard — dishonest, unjust and prejudiced. 

Noah McCourt


Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.


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