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Racism, homophobia persist in 2014

2014-06-08T10:22:00Z 2014-06-09T09:36:05Z Racism, homophobia persist in 2014 The Billings Gazette
June 08, 2014 10:22 am

On June 3, a well-known Billings builder and businessman spotted the 2008 Obama sticker on my car, got out of his truck and approached me to say, "I'm sorry you're a damn n------ lover!" This man runs a big property management company. Tell me, how could a person of color in Billings hope to be treated fairly by this man?

Racism is not dead in 2014. Nor homophobia. Hate is a reality, and we must do our best to expose hate in ourselves, and one another, and address it effectively so that all can have equal opportunity to thrive. That's why we need policy in the form of an NDO to ground us as a community into a framework for principled living.

Billings can't afford the luxury of resting on its 20-year-old reputation for "Not In Our Town." On June 20, you will have the opportunity to see a profound exhibit put together by West High School students of Dr. Bruce Wendt. It will open your eyes to our history of discrimination, and it will open your hearts to the impact of it. We must continue to address the tendency to divide ourselves into "us and them."

We're all in this together — we're a human family, and only as strong as our weakest members. Part of me wants to go hug this hateful man in hopes he'll find the love in his heart. The other part wants to put every Obama and gay pride sticker I can find on my car. But instead, I'll put a photo Maya Angelou on my dashboard — right next to Jesus — to remind me how to be a great human.

Mary Erickson


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