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Letter: How to cope with racism in Albert Lea

For our entire lives, when my husband and I attended study groups of one kind or another, we would physically attend and interact with other people.  Since last March with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned to “zoom” and talk with others over the computer as we stay home to avoid the virus. Some weeks ago, our friends Katherine and Joe Pacovsky invited us to participate in a study group on how to get beyond racism. It was sponsored by the Community Lutheran Church, in Las Vegas, Nevada, an Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Pacovskys’ daughter is a member of that church.

So, we met weekly for 10 weeks on Zoom, discussing a book entitled “Uncovering Racism” by Kathryn and Stephen Reid, and ways that the church and communities could work to get beyond racism.  If we would face the root of this evil, then the road to its cure would not be long. I wondered how many people realize that if we go back in time far enough, all of our ancestors originated in Africa. Many white people don’t like to think of that because of the many stereotypes we have learned about Africa. Additionally, contrary to popular opinion, Jesus was not white. And, the anthropologists tell us that race is a biological myth; rather it is a social construct.

There are more differences within races than between them and there are many people who don’t fit in any category.

Still we find all kinds of racism in our country.  We incarcerate far more African Americans than caucasians. Black Americans get shot by the police at higher rates.  In our own Albert Lea paper, we see a significantly higher number of arrests of Hispanics.

Where are our churches here in Albert Lea in response to racism? Perhaps we need to have some study groups like they have in Las Vegas. Anybody ready?

Elaine Smith

Albert Lea