A racist rant
Lindiwe Pricilla Krasin is troubled by racism in Maine [Op-ed, January 2015]. She describes the “lily white” island of Peaks she grew up on. As a woman of 38, she describes the “crackers, rednecks, or hick racists” she encounters in Maine. She cites child-protective services as an example of an organization “riddled with racist frameworks” and says the state’s health systems are “riddled with racist doctors and … racist female nurses,” without giving examples. Moreover, without citation, she claims domestic-violence shelters employ “some of the most spiritually violent racists” she has ever seen.
In order to fulfill human rights and social justice across the board, angry, hateful racism needs to be addressed. However, a new approach with new ideas and creative thinking, seeking harmony, is a better path to trek than public racist rants that do more harm than good.
Segregation in Maine?
In Lindiwe Pricilla Krasin’s op-ed, she said her writing on race had “never been accepted or requested by any publication” before The Bollard did so. I believe I may be able to offer insight as to why.
First, she refers to openly racist people as “crackers, rednecks, or hick racists.” With my limited knowledge of the vernacular, I would presume these terms to mean various groups of white people. Tell me, does Krasin have any names for openly racist black people?
“Now a woman of 38, I have been called a nigger many times in Maine,” Krasin wrote. “To be frank, as ugly as the word sounds when it comes out of a white person’s mouth [emphasis added], I figure, ‘Better the devil I know…’” How does the context of a word change depending on who says it? Does she mean to say that if I’m white I can go around calling other white people cracker or redneck or hick? Do I call her a racist if she refers to them as such?
Every point Krasin made in her piece involved sweeping generalizations that didn’t identify a specific problem or, more importantly, a solution. Example: The “conservative left,” as she calls them, “opine that by funding things like multicultural concerts, bean suppers, lectures and mixed-race summer camps, they are successfully addressing the issue. These events are spaces in which black Mainers and black culture are simply an entertainment for well-off white folk.” What is Krasin’s solution? What should they spend money on? Who are these “well-off white folk” being entertained, and how? Are they placing bets at the potato-sack race in mixed-race summer camp?
Krasin quotes a “white sister” who claims that “Maine and the rest of northern New England are the most racist places in America.” On what qualification is that assessment based? Are there separate drinking fountains for the two major races, or seating assignments on public transportation? I’m baffled. “Every time I have said Maine is extremely racist it has caused me to be marginalized,” Krasin claims. With good reason. That is, in my opinion, one of the most divisive sentences (of many) in her op-ed — and (pardon the vernacular) a crock of shit.
Racism does exist. It always has and always will — not only because of the racists themselves, but because of efforts like Krasin’s to separate a particular group of people for different treatment, whether under the rule of law or procedure. Krasin’s efforts might encounter more support and cooperation if they didn’t alienate other groups of people, which is the impression her op-ed gives me. The only sentence in the piece that made any sense to me was this: “There is a lot of work to do to make this world a good place, and it takes all hands on deck to do it.” All. But not crackers. Not rednecks. Not hicks. Not niggers. Not the conservative left. And not well-off white folk. That leaves the rest of us with nothing to do.
Val J. Graffa
Almost worse than Rwanda
The recent article about the apartment building at 35-37 Tate St. [That’s My Dump!, December 2014] really hit home for myself and a friend. Both of us deliver food to needy families in Portland, and for over two years we paid many visits to the Tate Street building. We fully agree with Patrick Banks that the building needed a lot of work. But what greatly disturbed me was that Mr. Banks’ article made it sound as if all the tenants were drug addicts and worthless dregs of society.
We delivered food and household goods to a young family (with two tiny children) from Rwanda, and brought food to several young men in another apartment who were also from Rwanda/Burundi. These people suffered from the deplorable conditions in this building while the landlord continued to collect a high rent. It is unfair to malign the residents for the state of the building!
Among the serious problems were a front door that never locked; unlit hallways; persistent, untreated bed bugs; and, often, a lack of heat or hot water — even in the dead of winter. One night the ceiling in the family’s apartment collapsed due to a water leak. When we called the utility providers, we were told the services were shut off due to non-payment by the landlord. Calls to the landlord were never answered or returned. The landlord never responded to letters posted by mail. For the last nine months of their residence, this fine immigrant family paid $900 a month for this “hell hole.” It was only after multiple letters from a lawyer friend that this irresponsible and immoral landlord took action: He offered them a different apartment.
We are glad that they are no longer tenants of his, and that they now live in a safe and clean building in Portland.