Nothing for you here | Bill Maxwell column, Sept. 2
Leave that barren ground behind
How sad that Mr. Maxwell had to relive an experience of racial hatefulness in 2018 that was no more justifiable in his childhood than it is now. Yes, this major part of Florida's history and our national history has yet to be fully addressed. What will it take for a person like the white man who confronted Mr. Maxwell to understand that his vigilance is misplaced? That the fears and angers pumping through his system are primed by people who profit from his misery?
The ground on which that canopy of merchandise was pegged is hard and barren; and, as Mr. Maxwell wisely did, we need to step away from such a place and keep on teaching and learning and listening in respectful exchange.
Barbara Finkelstein, Safety Harbor
Nothing for you here | Column, Sept 2
Won't be going there soon
Bill Maxwell's column was like a 65-year trip back in time and brought back memories of 1953 when I was one of the first white women to march the streets of New York with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); I sent all my white friends CORE Christmas cards that December too. I was only 19, but I knew enough to believe that it was time all people grew up and learned to respect each other as human beings. I believed then and now that we can only judge each other by character and accomplishments and never by religion or color of skin. Until recently, America moved forward in that direction.
A Trump rowdy telling an educated black man trying to use a rest stop that "There is nothing for you here" is a scary scene for anyone to deal with. Hate does not emanate from decent, intelligent people; it is only bred by ignorance and despair.
Since my car is adorned with all kinds of liberal stickers, I guess I will not be taking a drive through Arcadia any time soon. Why would I want to meet people like that anyhow?
Adele Ida Walter, Tampa
Still fighting in old age
I'm an 81-year-old white woman who can still fight hard but not long. What's next, folks? White sheets and pointy hats? As a pastor of mine used to say, "Get off the bench" and become involved. There are many of us. Speak up. The next step could involve ropes. And ovens?
Geneve Collins, St. Petersburg
The shame I felt
As a 69-year-old white native Floridian, I felt shame that my state is still fertile ground for the bigotry and hate-filled politics of the past, now embodied in our president and celebrated by many of his followers. Please know that there are many others who are aghast as well. I've been a registered Republican all my adult life, but, I can no longer endure the Trumpification of the party of Lincoln. I realize the problem goes deeper than party affiliation, but at least I can change my political registration and my vote as a small protest against such bigotry.
Jerry Touchton, New Port Richey
We are better than this
Bill Maxwell's recent column reminded me of my first experience of racism in the Deep South.
As a young woman traveling by car from New Orleans back to my home in St. Petersburg in the early 1980s, I stopped at an intersection near the Deep South Plaza in Alabama. There was a KKK member dressed in full garb at that intersection handing out pamphlets full of the usual venomous KKK bigotry.
Having grown up in northeastern Ohio, I was appalled and disgusted. It's unbelievable that this hatred is becoming evident in Florida and southern states in this day and age. We as human beings are better than this.
Nanette Standfast, St. Petersburg
We're all created equal
Though I am white, I have witnessed all too often the ugliness of prejudice and racism across this country. I was born into the military and spent my youth living in almost every region of this land and have seen the ugliness of prejudice toward the poor, the sick, the weak, a person's ethnicity and skin color.
The very foundation of our democratic ideal starts with the stated truth that "all men are created equal." I've asked colleagues of mine to imagine if Germany had built statues of Hitler, Goebbels, Rommel and other Nazi leaders after the war and placed them in public parks. And imagine homes blatantly displaying the swastika. How would the world feel toward them today?
Why is there a difference and exception here in our country?
The Confederacy was the enemy of our democratic ideals and sought to continue the evil of slavery and the oppression of human beings as a right.
When I now see these idiots today displaying that banner of hate, I remind them that it is a flag of losers.
Get over it and get a life, stand for something that really takes courage and resolve to bring peace and prosperity to all of our citizens.
Feelings of guilt for not always speaking up or taking a stand when faced with racism's evil ignorance and hatred have now in the later part of my life given me the courage to speak out and to say, "No more."
I believe fervently that we are all under the ultimate authority of God and that someday truth and goodness will prevail.
Larry Greenawalt, Weeki Wachee
Pendulum will swing back
My wife and I were both raised in the South by parents who taught us that we are all equal. I have deep roots in the Old South, but no one flies the Confederate battle flag. I pray that what you experienced was an anomaly.
My mother lived long enough to see the last election. She was upset, but she told me that America is resilient, that we are a pendulum that swings too far left and then too far right. But we will survive.
John Garrity, Clearwater