Unequal Burdens

In her September-October 2008 letter (“Don’t Speak for Me”), Lisa Clark writes that she is not guilty for taking part in slavery, and that she does not want her state representatives apologizing for slavery on her behalf.

I would have agreed with her until I had the good fortune to sit in seminary classes with students of color, of many ethnicities, with descendants of slaves and interned Japanese-Americans. In my 73 years I have been discriminated against as a woman, but I have never been excluded from renting or buying a home, from adequate schooling, or from admission to college or hiring for a job because of my race. I have never had my voting rights questioned or been insulted in this country solely for my race. I have never been concerned about my acceptance in any group because of my race. On the other hand, my family and I owe much of our social, professional, and financial standing to generations of work, school, and the social advantages of being white in America. And unlike my schoolmates, we have never had the burden of having to teach others about what it means to be a person of our race or ethnic identity.

I would like our local and national representatives to embody apology to all who have been discriminated against by action for social justice rather than by knuckling under to the influence of the privileged. In this way they would speak for me and with me.

Lilyan Snow, Mercer Island, Washington

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