Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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Rosales: Donnelly’s view privileged


I am responding to the opinion piece offered by Ann Donnelly regarding the tragic death of Kevin Peterson, Jr. in last week’s paper (“Kevin Peterson Jr. didn’t have to die,” The Columbian, Jan. 3).

As a person of color, I can provide a more accurate and realistic view compared to the privileged position Ms. Donnelly enjoys.

To presume that a young Black man made “choices” to be killed is not only inhumane it is enormously callous and cruel.

To not have walked in the shoes of a BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color), Ms. Donnelly couldn’t possibly be expected to understand why law enforcement responses are different toward minorities than toward the majority. When a white person is confronted by a police officer, they don’t fear for their life – there is no perceived threat.

Historically, evidence suggests the police don’t tend to pull guns and fire 34 shots into the body of that white person. The same cannot be said of any person of color.

BIPOC have been killed when sitting in our car, while cooperating with police, when walking out of a grocery store, when taking a run in our own neighborhood and when walking home. It’s no wonder our flight mechanism kicks in and we run away from the perceived threat instead of standing there and accepting death.

How many young white boys have to receive the “talk” from their fathers about what it means to be white in America? To compare the two experiences is a gross disservice to our humanity and a profound misrepresentation of communities of color. From our standpoint, the actions of the officers are more troubling than the background of this young man.

The institutions of law enforcement and jurisprudential execution have always been racist and have been consistently written with the intent of preventing social advancement (i.e. tax credits, voting rights, redistricting, lending laws, the “war on drugs”).

The war on immigrants was fabricated not only to prevent people of color from having a life better than in their country of origin, but being convinced they were taking the jobs away from white men, to also slake the nativist thirst for scared white men who felt threatened.

Time and time again white folks report people of color because the white person is scared, not because the person of color did anything more excessive than walk past them.

You can’t possibly understand discrimination when you are white and privileged and never even have had the ability to understand what it means to be treated differently.

Ed Hamilton Rosales is president of the Southwest Washington League of United Latin American Citizens, Council 47013.