Letters • April 6, 2020


Discrimination based on skin color is racism

Re: The letter of Jack Rowett (Catholic Virginian, March 23): Rowett’s letter includes by definition examples of racial discrimination, attributing causation of behavior and perception of culture to color of skin. When discrimination indicates superiority of one skin color to another, this is racism.

In a Texas suburb called DeSoto, the population is 70% black. Based on Rowett’s rationale, that “Black culture” causes high crime rates, this suburb should have incredibly high crime rates.

But it has low crime rates. Why? Perhaps because using color of skin to make judgments about human beings, each made in the image of God, isn’t the right path. These assumptions are not facts, they are opinions, sometimes racist opinions.

Perhaps we should talk facts. In DeSoto, 90% of the population are high school graduates, over 30% have a college education, and 60% of the businesses are owned by African Americans. Maybe access to quality education, employment opportunities and a number of other factors make a real difference.

Maybe we should ask ourselves how we make sure all people in our country have equitable access to these factors. Maybe we shouldn’t put a timetable on how long we think it should take generations of people to recover from literal dehumanization and subjugation in the form of slavery, Jim Crow laws and many other despicable forms of systemic racism that have happened and are still happening in our country.

Maybe those of us who have white skin should take a dose of humble pie and recognize we will never know what it is like to live without it.

– Nicole Gerardo, Charlottesville

Letter writer painted inaccurate picture

Whenever I hear a phrase similar to “I’m not racist, however…” I know that a racist statement is sure to follow, and Jack Rowett did not disappoint in his letter to the editor (Catholic Virginian, March 23).

Rowett claims that black incarceration rates can’t be unjust because they accurately reflect higher criminal behavior in African American populations. The 13th amendment abolished slavery over 150 years ago. The vestiges of slavery very quickly morphed into a system of black mass incarceration.

The entire criminal justice system from beginning to end is stacked against African Americans. I suspect that Rowett is using a few rudimentary statistics to declare that a very large and complicated system is just and fair.

Mr. Rowett, I implore you look deeper into this. I pray that God will open your eyes to the suffering that has ravaged our communities and that you will feel compelled — at the very least — to stop spreading divisive statements that paint an inaccurate picture.

– Jennifer Garrett, Virginia Beach

Statistics don’t tell whole story

Jack Rowett says in his letter (Catholic Virginian, March 23) that by looking at incarceration statistics, one can see that African Americans commit more crimes than other demographics. This is not wholly accurate. Incarceration statistics don’t reflect all crimes committed. Even assuming that no one was wrongly convicted, incarceration statistics only reflect a portion of crimes committed.

These statistics are crimes that were witnessed, their perpetrators apprehended, charges pressed, perpetrators found guilty and perpetrators sentenced to serve time. Many, many things can occur along that path that can lead to injustice or, at least, unfairness.

Perhaps someone along that chain of power was racist (racist officers, lawyers, and judges do, sadly, exist), or perhaps the perpetrator didn’t have a lawyer that was very good or able to reach a plea bargain. Being able to choose one’s lawyer costs money, and poverty disproportionately affects people of color.

– Rachel Condon, Hanover

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