Letter: Anti-flag letter was racist, offensive and harmful

Posted 8/5/20

To the editor:

In this age, it’s true that anyone can be offended by almost anything. However, if you’re offended by a flag, your feelings are misplaced. You’re entitled to free …

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Letter: Anti-flag letter was racist, offensive and harmful

Posted

To the editor:

In this age, it’s true that anyone can be offended by almost anything. However, if you’re offended by a flag, your feelings are misplaced. You’re entitled to free speech, but your letter was harmful and offensive. Here’s why.

To start, I would like to say thank you for your service to the American people and the town of Warren. As a young person, I also aspire to be someone who creates change in the world we live in.

But, the fact that you are a war veteran and community leader does not excuse the hateful things you said. Just because you fought in arms alongside people of color does not mean that you get to call others “yellow” or “red”. It’s disgusting that you’re older and probably know a lot, yet I’m 14 and know that it’s not okay to call others things like this. You have no right to use these words for a person’s ethnicity. 

The flying of a Black Lives Matter flag isn’t going to destroy the community. By displaying it, nobody is “compensating for all the racists in Warren”, but acknowledging the racist systems of our country. Just because the conversation is uncomfortable, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have it.

BLM is not a political stance, but human rights. Nobody is placing “political correctness” above community servants, people are just tired of injustice in the police system. You may know a cop or two that’s nice and wouldn’t hurt others, but their compliance with the system is what makes them wrong. 

Did you know that the police system was created to keep slaves on plantations? Or that police aren’t even in the top 20 most dangerous jobs in America? Cops have never faced systematic oppression, been enslaved, stripped of their rights, or discriminated against for something they couldn’t change. It’s been taught to us from childhood that police officers are here to protect us, but that’s not true for anyone except white people who are middle class or higher. Saying things like “all police are good people who keep us safe” is untrue and harmful to those affected by police brutality. 

Just because many citizens of Warren fought to end slavery does not mean that racism doesn’t exist in our community. Supporting BLM won’t dishonor their sacrifice and service. 

The movement isn’t driven by ignorance or misinformation. BLM isn’t fighting for just one death, but the deaths of many. BLM is fighting for the more than 15 Black Trans women who were killed this year. BLM is fighting for LaVena Johnson, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Matthew Tucker, Nina Pop, Justin Howell, Dominique Fells, George Floyd, and far too many more. 

The statements that you made in your letter are racist, offensive, and harmful. Your statement is part of the problem. Please educate yourself.

Iris Petrillo

Warren

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.