In there a racism problem here? That depends

Darrell Berkheimer, a fellow columnist in The Union, stirred up some of our local conservatives over the weekend with a column in Saturday’s edition headlined “Ending racism is a community-wide issue.”

Berky’s column was prompted by the recent vandalism and theft of two banners proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” hoisted by the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains, and an incident at Rollins Lake over a year ago when a black family was allegedly threatened by a guy wielding a shotgun. The district attorney still hasn’t decided if he’s going to charge anybody with a crime.

Berky wrote that leaders need to make a strong statement that prejudice and racism won’t be tolerated in the community, a proposal that seemed to upset some local conservative bloggers.

First to weigh in was Todd Juvinall, who usually bloviates at Sierra Dragon’s Breath and has a refined ability to see exactly what he wants to see. Commenting at Rebane’s Ruminations, he pointed out that the gun man may have been an outsider, we don’t know if a local committed the vandalism and theft, and suggested Berkheimer is a hypocrite for moving here instead of Oakland or Watts.

Then there was this: “It has been my experience that ‘minorities’ have always been welcome and I personally have never seen a local person show racism to them.”

George Rebane then seconded the sentiment, writing that bleeding hearts screw up their own communities then “migrate to wholesome communities that still embrace traditional American values, and then get busy in changing the local culture to one that sports a trail of devastation. We in Nevada County are in the throes of it today.”

Berky doesn’t need me to defend what he writes, but I’ve lived here longer than he has and I’ve acquired some anecdotal evidence–evidence that apparently has alluded hawkeyes like Juvinall and Rebane–that suggests we have issues that need to be addressed if we truly value the futures of the children we claim to treasure.

Is there overt racism and discrimination in western Nevada County? It’s hard to say because as the second whitest county in the state, there are few minorities to discriminate against. But that doesn’t mean locals have a positive opinion of our black fellow Americans.

There’s been at least a half-dozen incidents in the 16 years I’ve lived here where black athletes and their supporters were harassed  while competing against teams at Nevada Union and Bear River. One of them even triggered a fight after the game.

The most recent incident reported in The Union was in 2014, when the girls basketball team from Sheldon High School reported taunts and coins being thrown at them during a playoff game at NU. (NU’s principal and athletic director were at the game, but claimed later they saw nothing unusual.)

Teenagers–particularly those who have never been exposed to blacks–learn these attitudes at home.

Then there are the retirees from the Bay Area and southern California who moved here to, among other reasons, get away from “those people.” A lot of them live where I live, Lake of the Pines, the most Republican precinct in the country.

Finally, there was an incident I witnessed about 10 years ago that would never happen where I come from in the Bay Area. I walked into Raley’s in Grass Valley and noticed an attractive black woman who was expensively dressed–probably a lawyer or some other professional who was in town on business.

What fascinated me was the reaction of customers who were near enough to see her–primarily older white folks. They stared at her, slack-jawed, as if an exotic bird had just flown into the store. The woman knew she was the center of attention and was clearly uncomfortable, completing her shopping as quickly as she could and then heading for the check-out line.

It may be difficult for people living here to comprehend, but whites are a minority in the world. Based on current trends, they will cease being a majority in the United States during the lifetime of the county’s teenagers. It has already happened in California.

Like it or not, our youth are going to have to co-exist and work with Americans who don’t look like them. If they go to college, their classmates and teachers will span the spectrum of racial and ethnic groups. If they go in the military after high school, they will be taking orders from blacks, Hispanics and others who don’t trace their ancestry to Europe.

If you seek a career outside Nevada County, you can bet the people you work with won’t resemble those in your graduating class. Even if you never leave Nevada County, minority influences are everywhere.

Do you drink Coke or Pepsi? Charge with a MasterCard or American Express card? Use Yahoo? Copy documents on a Xerox machine? Attend games of the Sacramento Kings? All of those firms were founded, or are run or owned by minorities.

We’re not preparing our local youth for the world they’ll live in by perpetuating racial and ethnic stereotypes. Maybe the kids will be smart enough to figure that out.

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12 Responses to In there a racism problem here? That depends

  1. Juvinall claims I’m delusional for suggesting there are racists among us. He has clearly inhaled more sawdust than is good for the brain.

    • Todd Juvinall says:

      Not at all. At least I had a good profession and not one spreading BS as journalists seem to do. Sure racism is everywhere and practiced by all races. I once went to Watts in 1972 with my black pal to visit his family. It was truly a eye opener. And once Hal Berliner and I went to the State Fair in 1967 or 68 and were accosted ny about twenty black kids and were called many unfortunate names. Thank goodness a cop was right behind them. And my granddaughter is half white and haf Mexican and she is great and smart. But I must be prejudice, right? Because I want a wall.

      So yes, I think you are delusional and have snorted too much India Ink as you and your ilk claim our little white community is so racist. My goodness, you see a black gal eyed in Raley’s and that is your proof? Seriously? Cry wolf!

      I bet you fin a reason to not post this.

    • You need to work on your reading comprehension; I never said “our little white community is so racist.”

      Like everywhere else, we have our share of racists, and it does no good to pretend they don’t exist and let their hateful attitudes go unchallenged. If you are as tolerant as you claim to be, you wouldn’t be so defensive.

  2. Bill Tozer says:

    There are racists everywhere. I was sickened once when the kids ran into a Kings player at a fast food joint. They were besides themselves with excitement.. The trio ran up to him and he barked back, “Friggin white kids. Get away from me.” Too sad. They just became Kings fans that year. Not anymore.
    Walking down the streets once minding my own business I heard “There’s a white guy!” and was pelted by rocks from a group of very naughty black teens. Only a few stones managed to hit me, one tearing my check open below the eye and the other on the high forehead. I survived. It’s everywhere in all cultures. Hopefully it is not as widespread as most think it is.
    I have no solutions and cannot control what other do, at least not for but a fleeting moment. I am concerned that we have become so PC that we cannot help ourselves from falling back into seperate but equal. That is not who we are, but appears the way we are heading. A great paradox..

    • Racism is not unique to Nevada County or to whites, but it is like every other disease–you can’t treat it until you admit you’re sick. Pretending it doesn’t exist just makes it worse.

  3. Bill Tozer says:

    Mr. Boardman. Thankyou for your reply. Now I have a better understanding of the gist of your post. I have not met anyone who says racism does not exist, but I am sure there are a few that might believe it really does not exist (here). Maybe in a parallel universe or Niverna, somewhere over the rainbow. The lion will lay down with the lamb and no more tears. Not on this planet, not in this lifetime.
    There is a big difference between denying racism exists and simply not wanting to talk about it or have it way down on the priority list when one is busy doing life. Many folks could be and are labeled as racists, yet they would vehemently reject the very idea. We all have our blind spots, each and every one of us. We do not see ourselves as others see us. An example is that (most) obese parents do not see their obese kids as being fat. Not in the least. A blind spot.

    Guess it gets down to how widespread racism is here in Whiteyville. Or to put it in terms of degrees, is racism here subtle or quite overt? Passive racism or out in the open no holding back blatant racism like what happened at Rollins Lake near the Placer County line? The Headline stuff. Is racism a big problem here or a minor problem or somewhere in between?
    The real question not posed is do I (or any one of us, including you) have racist thoughts or attitudes buried deep within ourselves if one dares to look. And if racism is found without one’s secret depths, what is the indivual going to do about it?

    When I was working down in the most remote parts of southern Louisiana, a LE officer told me something I will never forget. He said “Up North, the Yankees love the race but hate the man. Down here, we hate the race but love the man.” My experience down there proved his words correct. One a one-to-one, the respect and friendliness and equality shown to the individuals of either race was mutual and refreshing. But, the same town had bars where white people are not welcome and bars where black people are not welcome. Yet, walking down the street, everyone was equal. And I drank in black bars without problems, only to find out later I was lucky to get out alive and unharmed. You don’t do that…the unwritten law of both races. Southern hospitality is alive and well on a individual basis, even though the blacks put down the whites and vice versa when the broad brush comes out.
    I have pondered that LE words now and then. Once on the old Union blog, the topic came up. My comment was blocked. I resubmitted the comment and received a reply instantly that if I don’t stop it right now, I would be 86’ed for life, lol. Do not go there and stop it right now. I stopped.
    This was my comment that got me in hot water with the webmaster: “IF YOU had to choose between options with no other options existed, would you love the race yet hate the man, or would you hate the race yet love the man?” I confess I would opt for the latter choice if forced to choose.

    • Todd Juvinall says:

      Excellent post Tozer. What is fascinating to me is this. Liberals are always pointing the finger at others for racist behavior or actions, yet never tell us if they have those. Is Boardman a racist? Maybe. But would he ever admit it? Nope. But pointing the finger is easy, I look to actions. Did he or Berkmeister move here because it is a white county? Would they ever admit it? Nope. But that finger pointing is theirs, not ours.

      I recall when I was a Supervisor and the SF Chronicle came up and interviewed me and others. They wanted to show how racist we are since we were such a white county. There must be people doing cross burning s and chasing blacks and others down the road and out of the county. Well, I said you are all full of crap and anyone can move here if they want. Well, for some reason the race percentages are the same as they were then so these race baiters are back. I say, move to Watts and try to help those folks. But nope, here they are in whitey country.

  4. Todd Juvinall says:

    Who is pretending? And tonight we see riots in North Carolina because a black cop kills a armed black man. And the crowd is blaming whitey. Yes you and the other fellow were making it appear it is rampant here in your ditty and now you claim my reading skills are not so good when I point that out. Really? Do you see how screwy that IS?

  5. gjrebane says:

    Mr Boardman – I was a bit confused as to what “evidence” you claim has “alluded”(sic) me about what??? Would be happy to be enlightened.

    • I was referring specifically to the taunting of black athletes when their teams play here, and the retirees who move here to get away from “those people” as evidence we have our share of racists. Surely this hasn’t escaped your attention in the time you’ve lived here, or maybe you prefer not to see it.

    • Todd Juvinall says:

      I recall many years ago when our Miners went to Grant and were attacked after we beat them. Our kids were getting on the bus and disgruntled blacks attacked even our cheerleaders. Am I recalling that corrector Mr. Boardman? What would you call that?

    • You seem to recall a lot of things that may or may not be true. If this incident happened, it should be condemned because there is no justification it, but it’s no excuse for taunting black players who come up here.

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