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LETTER: Awareness needed to change racism

Frank Sterle Jr. shares his thoughts on Black History Month

(Re: “Black History Month: time to be better than the past,” AHO, Feb.5, 2021)

Editor,

Although research reveals infants demonstrate a preference for caregivers of their own race, any future racial biases generally are environmentally acquired.

One way of rectifying this bias is by allowing young children to become accustomed to other races in a harmoniously positive manner.

Adult racist sentiments, however, are often cemented by a misguided yet strong sense of entitlement, perhaps also acquired from rearing.

Fortunately, at a very young age I was emphatically told by my mother about the exceptionally kind and caring nature of our Black family doctor.

She never had anything disdainful to say about people of colour; in fact she loves to watch/listen to the Middle Eastern and Indian subcontinental dancers and musicians on the multicultural channels.

Conversely, if she’d told me the opposite about the doctor, I could’ve aged while blindly linking his color with an unjustly cynical view of him and all Black people.

When angry, my (late) father occasionally expressed displeasure with Anglo immigrants, largely due to his own experiences with bigotry as a new Canadian citizen in the 1950s and ’60s.

He, who like Mom emigrated from Eastern Europe, didn’t resent non-white immigrants, for he realized they had things at least as bad. Plus he noticed—as I also now do—in them an admirable absence of a sense of entitlement.

Thus essentially by chance I reached adulthood unstricken by uncontrolled feelings of racial contempt seeking expression.

Not as lucky, some people—who may now be in an armed authority capacity—were raised with a distrust or blind dislike of other racial groups.

Regardless, the first step towards changing our irrationally biased thinking is our awareness of it and its origin.

But until then, ugly sentiments must be either suppressed or professionally dealt with, especially when considering the mentality is easily inflamed by anger.

-Frank Sterle Jr., White Rock


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