I am a black man, who has lived in Maine for 15 years, an African American male with an opinion about racism in this, my beloved country.

The long silence about racism is what breeds suspicion. America has lost its desire and its ability to listen and talk about racism without criticism, blame or punishment. America lapsed into a social coma when the new century arrived. We dodged the bullet of Y2K and reveled in the endless possibility of Tomorrowland. Things were not rosy, but neither were things uncomfortable enough to look in our collective past at the silent elephant that is racism. Although racism was not as vicious in the past, it still was unsettled, unresolved and neglected.

And as all things neglected too long, racism has returned with a vengeance. Everyone is surprised; we thought that passé.

I lived through the civil rights struggle in Chicago, the violent marches and the courage of the Freedom Riders, the voter registration movements and the assassinations, resulting in riots in the summer.

America would not look at herself, until worldwide opinion shined the light of justice on our democratic creed: “with liberty and justice for all.”

America has come so far in these past 40 years. However, as our leaders die off and worldwide opinion looks to its own, we have lapsed back into the ugly howl of racism. This time, the long silence is a deafening roar of outrage.

I love America. I love our ability to rally in the darkest of times, to band together and solve the most uncomfortable, insurmountable problems of advanced citizenry. Now is the time to talk and listen to one another about racism. We must hang together, or we shall surely hang separately.

James Weathersby, Augusta

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