Is it a luxury to protest? A rebuttal

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Dear Mr. Wright,

My editorial department found this week’s column troubling. While we often don’t agree with your political views, this is the first time that we have almost not run your column. However, we realized that many people who read this newspaper may share your views, and we have never censored your work before, so I ultimately decided to publish your column but with the caveat that I will publish a rebuttal.

You say in your column that the protectors and rioters in Baltimore and other cities this week must have the luxury of time to protest, and most likely that is because they are unemployed and may have “quit job searching altogether, finding it much easier to live off unemployment funds and eventually various forms of taxpayer-funded support.”

You say you’re “baffled by it all.”

Mr. Wright, I don’t know you. We’ve never met. You dutifully send in your column every week and I appreciate that I can count on you to submit your work on time without fail. However, I can make some assumptions about you: you are white, you are reasonably well educated, and you are from a generation where reasonably educated, white men can be assured of some type of financial success in America. In short, you are privileged.

And so I must respectfully ask you to have a seat.

What in the world do you know about the life of an African American person living in the inner city? Have you witnessed the ravaging of your community by drug abuse, the obliteration of jobs thanks to the factories that used to sustain your city being moved overseas? Are you and your father part of a system that has effectively created a pipeline from school to prison, removing you and a million and a half other men who look like you from their families? Do police and store clerks assume you’re a criminal based on your skin color?

Listen. I’m not a Black man either. I am a white woman who lives in a gentle community. My children are white. My husband is white. The collective history of this country has assured me that every day, I can leave the house with the reasonable expectation that my family will come home at the end of the day without being profiled, arrested or shot. If I, my husband or my children break the law, I can be confident that if arrested, we will be treated with reasonable respect from law enforcement and cuffed and transported to jail without incident. We can afford a lawyer and likely expect to be given probation or a suspended sentence for our crime.

When I walk into a job interview, I am not fighting against a stereotype.

When my children walk into a classroom, they are not fighting against a stereotype.

When my husband walks into a room, people are not immediately threatened by his presence.

I am privileged too. I can watch the protests on television and post about them on my Facebook wall and the only risk I am taking is offending someone who doesn’t share my political views.

The question should not be where do the protestors get the “luxury” of free time. The question should be, how are you using the luxury of your station in society, and your guaranteed platform in the weekly newspaper, to generate thoughtful commentary and meaningful dialogue in this community.

Sincerely,

Sarah Mansheim

Managing Editor

Mountain Messenger