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Shore: Time to look at our history of classism

Kenneth Shore

Kenneth Shore

I was disturbed by Phil Latham’s comment in his June 17 column asking, “White people, can we just get over ourselves a bit and stop continually protesting that ‘all lives matter.’ “

Mr. Latham should say the names of all the people who died at the hands of the police over the past five years. He would mostly be saying the names of white people. Twice as many whites are killed by police than blacks. Almost all people killed by police are poor, black or white.

However, when was the last time the killing of an unarmed white man made the national news? Who marched for him? Where were the riots? Remember, this happens twice as often as incidents of a black man being killed by police.

There should be a coalition of people of all races against excessive police force. It should be a coalition of people who love living in a free country governed by the rule of law. However, that coalition does not serve the political purposes of Democrats and others on the Left, who try to stir emotions to promote racial and class tensions for their own political ends. Mr. Latham plays right into this.

There is racism in this country. We have a very ugly history of racism in East Texas. However, we also have an ugly history of classism. And unlike racism, which we at least acknowledge and struggle to address, we have yet to fully come to grips with how we treat poor whites, which is the group most frequently on the wrong end of deadly police force.

Apparently, in the United States it is socially acceptable to make fun of “white trash,” and the police may shoot them with little worry that someone will give a damn. After all, most people in power consider poor whites to be dirty, ignorant and racist.

That is how they are portrayed in books, on TV and in movies (“To Kill a Mockingbird,” “A Time to Kill”). No one would put a black version of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” Turtleman, or the “1000-lb Sisters” on television or make a black version of the movie “Joe Dirt.”

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would not dare openly mock or ridicule poor black people the way they have poor whites in the middle of the country.

Maybe members of the News-Journal’s editorial board should get out of their offices once and a while and drive to rural parts of the surrounding counties and explain to the poor whites who live there that they need to use some of their white privilege to find decent housing, a better education, a cohesive family unit and a good job.

The editors need to say directly to poor whites that, if they dare say that their lives matter too, they are racists and need to get over themselves.

It is an objective fact that poor whites far outnumber poor blacks. Elites in this country love statistics and percentages. Blacks are just over twice as likely to live in poverty than whites, which is a shameful result of our racist history.

However, blacks are 14% of the population according to the 2010 census, and non-Hispanic whites are 63%. Put aside these percentages and statistics for a moment — there is a very large number of poor whites in this country who are struggling with most of the exact same problems that poor blacks struggle with.

Empathize with them a little when they hear wealthy white elitists talk about white privilege and Black Lives Matter while they struggle in poverty and are shot by police twice as often as blacks. Yet some members of the News-Journal’s editorial board can’t understand why poor whites in this country might think their lives really don’t matter to anyone.

If Black Lives Matter became All Lives Matter — regardless of race, color or class — we might make some real progress toward a more just nation where we are all truly treated equally under the law.

Yet, instead of really coming together to fight for the values every American believes in, we again divide ourselves by race and class. While I feel strongly about this, maybe I need to just get over myself.

— Kenneth Shore is a Longview resident.

Today's Bible verse

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Colossians 2:6-7

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