On rare occasions, we will post a letter to the editor anonymously. This is one of those times. An exception was granted in this case because of the public interest served in reading the contents of the letter coupled with the letter writer's fear of retribution.
I write this letter anonymously because I know that I will be labeled a ‘racist’ for not agreeing completely with Mr. Thompson’s Letter to the Editor entitled: Wayne is More Segregated Than You Know.
It is a sad fact of today, that no discussion can be had on the subject of race without being given a label and branded with it. We are living in a version of Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter.
Segregation is defined as “the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community, or establishment.”
When segregation was the law of the land, it was a sad time in America. Non-Caucasians, especially African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens through governmental policy and the attitude was also reflected in much of the culture.
The civil rights movement of the sixties put an end to government-enforced segregation and provided for equal rights to all under the law no matter the race. Yet, this week, Mr. Thompson in his Letter to the Editor says that Wayne is more segregated than we know.
I admit that what Mr. Thompson laid out was an interesting history lesson and sad facts, but this did not demonstrate any current segregation in Wayne.
It shows two towns with two different populations and does not take into account that Paterson began as an industrial town and attracted many workers. While Wayne was a farm town built in a beautiful valley that attracted wealthy people.
Mr. Thompson’s letter says that because wealthier areas like Wayne were able to prosper, the property taxes collected led to better schools. More money = better schools. However, if we compare school budgets for Wayne and Paterson, you will see that Paterson spends basically the same amount per student that Wayne does.
-Paterson school budget for 2020: $618 Million
-Wayne school budget for 2020: $175 Million
-Paterson students: approx 28,000 = $2,207 per student
-Wayne students: approx. 8,000: = $2,187 per student
There is no segregation in Wayne. There is only a belief that because Wayne is 88% white, and Paterson is 67% Hispanic and 22% black, that Wayne must somehow be doing something racist to keep minorities from living here. That was certainly the case in the past, but that is not the case now.
There is no doubt that racist policies made it easier for whites to create wealth and minorities not to. There is no argument for this historical fact. However, those policies have changed, and over the course of my 55-year lifespan, more and more laws were put in to place to offset the past policies. Laws such as affirmative action. These laws have helped change the landscape of racism in American business and government.
Education and integration have moved the needle of racist attitudes in America almost 180 degrees from where it was in 1965 when I was born.
Do many minorities have a disadvantage? Yes. Do ALL whites have an advantage? No. The wealthy ones do, but there are many poor and middle-class whites who do not have any special privilege.
Mr. Thompson has only told a part of a history. Is it coincidence that the part of history that he told fits his narrative and his desire for change? Only he knows that answer.
We are not where we all want to be as a society yet - Although, I believe we are a lot closer than most people want us to believe. Where we all want to be is in a place of peace, where no one is judged by the color of their skin, or what country they are from, or language they speak or accent they have, or, what gender they are or disability they have.
Over the course of generations, America has come around. The change has been happening slowly because you cannot change an attitude like you can change a light bulb. It cannot be forced; it must be done through positive influence and education. This has been happening and continues to happen. I believe that we should applaud how far we have come.
Sadly, I don’t believe we can ever get rid of 100% of racism.
Evil, judgementalism, and trying to make oneself feel superior by making others feel inferior has always been a part of human existence and I don’t think it can be completely wiped out. We find this in many areas, not just in racism. But, racism is evil, it is judgmental, and it has everything to do with superiority.
Calling someone a racist for not agreeing with you is also evil, it is judgmental and comes from a feeling of superiority. It makes you no better than the real racists and causes division within the community when unity is what we need now more than ever.
A Wayne Resident