Editorial: Sliding Backward

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An attack on anyone because of their race, as frivolous, inane and meaningless as it may appear to some people, is a chilling event. If casual racial hatred is no big deal, there is absolutely nothing to separate us from those who participated or stood by as Hitler rose to power in Germany not so long ago and targeted Jews because they were Jews.

On Independence Day night, when we are supposed to be celebrating the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence — that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness — a group of people of color were enjoying a barbecue and game of Charades on their back porch overlooking the beach in Sag Harbor Hills when someone in a group of young people out in the darkness allegedly yelled the N-word at them.

Unbelievably, we now have a president who uses racism to excite his base and tolerates racism in his political vision of the United States. Before Donald Trump came to power and set his new tone of tolerance for hatred, would anyone in this village have had cause to yell the N-word for no apparent reason at a group of back-deck partygoers? It’s hard to imagine.

Our country has long struggled with its institutional racist roots. It has made progress toward living out the true meaning of its creed. But we have a long way to go … and we’re backsliding.

There are people and organizations locally who are fighting this backward tide by making sure we keep talking about the issue. The Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center’s “Thinking Forward” lecture series on Friday is presenting a program in partnership with Guild Hall titled “Burying Our Heads in the Sand? An Open Dialogue About Race & Segregation with Khalil Gibran Muhammad.” It’s one encouraging sign that the event is sold out.

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