The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

The Racism pot in town has been stirred


Our editorial in last week’s Sentinel, about an African American pastor at a local church who felt forced to leave Goldendale because of intense racism, generated more response than anything that has run in this newspaper during my time here.

All of the response—let me make this extremely clear: 100 percent of it—was supportive of our stand against racism.

That means the spiritually retarded people in this town who practiced that racism are vastly outnumbered. They might want to seriously reflect on that reality and what it means: if they thought they would find an island of acceptance of their primitive mentality here, they are gravely mistaken.

The overwhelming response to the editorial came in every variety—emails, phone calls, and in-person visits. The emotions expressed included sadness, outrage, indignation, and, commonly, shock that such a thing could happen here. Of course it’s hard to see the ugliness of Goldendale racism if you’re white, which is the vast majority of residents, and with a small number of people of color in the area. Incidents aren’t common enough to see racism easily. Not being from this area, I’ve wondered sometimes how Native Americans and Hispanics are treated around here; I was pleasantly surprised to see that many live and go to school among Caucasians, and I hoped that meant they were well treated. Maybe they just aren’t black enough to suit some people’s “taste.” Or maybe they do get treatment similar to what the former pastor got—does anyone really know?

But the response also included people stepping up to cite other examples of racism still ongoing in town. For example, word has come of an African American who needs a ride to go to work because of serious concern for safety by walking through town.

For some visitors to Goldendale, reaction to this city has undergone a tectonic shift. First they liked the town and its people. But one described his reaction to such horrific racism here as like opening a beautiful-looking gift only to discover bovine waste products inside. I’m paraphrasing.

Rep. Norm Johnson wrote, “Like you, I am appalled at this type of behavior. Hopefully this is just a very small number of folks.”

If it’s just one, it’s too many. Perhaps there are people in town who found a time machine and returned to mid-20th century America, that Golden Age of life where all was bliss and joy—as long as you were white, male, and Christian.

The Pacific Northwest has been home to some astonishingly unenlightened whackos who sought to carve out a white supremacist homeland here. Such an aim can be readily compared to ISIS, which sought to establish an Islamic supremacist caliphate in Syria and Iran. It’s entertaining to think how the whiteys in the area would take being compared to ISIS. The reality is, extremist attitudes of superiority of any kind are all moronic, dangerous, primitive, and unacceptable on any fundamental human level. Put another way: they’re all the same, just different flavors, and they have to stop.

The good news is: the big, ugly, feral cat is out of the bag. The pot has been stirred. No one can say hereafter they didn’t know about racism in Goldendale.


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