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Much yet to do I

It saddens us — the YWCA of Westmoreland County, the Central Westmoreland Unity Coalition, Congregation Emanu-El Israel, the Greensburg-Jeannette NAACP, Seton Hill University and Westmoreland County Community College — to acknowledge that after the past 50 years of the civil rights movement, racism still shows no sign of fading away.

The racial slur at First Antioch Baptist (” Racial epithet spray-painted on Greensburg Baptist church ,” Nov. 12 and TribLIVE.com) is an unfortunate reminder that we’re not going to “outgrow” racism anytime soon.

And the same week, there was Eric Heyl’s equally disturbing column ” Fans play race card, spoil day at PSU ” (Nov. 14 and TribLIVE.com) about racially focused harassment suffered by Linda and Bobby Baker, a mixed-race couple, while attending a football game at Penn State University.

As organizations that strive for a culture where differences are celebrated and appreciated, it is humbling to realize that we have so much yet to do. Since publicly admonishing and rebuking people are unlikely to cause racists to change, we often lament these acts of ethnic intimidation among ourselves but struggle to respond effectively.

First and foremost, we must publicly speak out against these despicable acts. Then we must seek to become more culturally competent as we work for a socially just community.

We invite the community to develop active responses to intimidation, both personally and socially. It is the first step to absolute change.

Collectively, we repudiate these vicious and despicable acts of racism.

Bonnie Lewis

The writer, executive director of the YWCA of Westmoreland County, submitted this letter on behalf of her organization and the others named in it.


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