Racial Justice in the NEK
To the Editor:
I am writing in support of Netdahe Stoddard’s letter to the editor (5/21) concerning the recent Dandelion Run. At the event, he demonstrated the courage to speak up about a fellow runner whose obvious tattoo was a symbol of white supremacy. Most others at the race dismissed his concerns. Symbols can mean all kinds of things, right?
Symbols of hate, particularly racism, are often intentionally ambiguous. They signal solidarity to those “in the know” but can appear quite harmless to people who are unaware. An example of this is “Pepe the Frog”, an initially innocuous, humorous cartoon character that was hijacked by the “alt-right” as a symbol of racism, bigotry, & white supremacy. To quote a recent article in the New York Times by Doug Glanville, (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/18/opinion/sunday/doug-glanville-cubs.html), “Bigotry thrives in vagueness. It is cowardly in double meanings.” Symbols matter and they are profound forms of communication.
In his letter, Mr. Stoddard also addressed the fact that while a few other runners thanked him for speaking out, they did so privately. No one stood with him publicly.
This is not the time (nor has it ever been the time) for silence in response to acts of racism and bigotry. People of color are dying, are murdered, for simply walking down the street. Folks have color have fought against racism and bigotry for centuries. Some white people have too, but not enough of us. If we want the NEK to be a truly welcoming and inclusive community for all then we all must stand up for racial justice. As Mr. Stoddard states in his letter, “We have the power to simply choose to do better.”
Patricia Shine & Paul Marcus