Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, January 3, 2015

MVNews this week:  Page 16


Happy New Year!

 Mountain Views-News Saturday, January 3, 2015 



 Well, we’ve entered into another year and for that everyone 
should be happy. We’ve lived to see another day, another year. 
Most people hope that the New Year will bring more peace and 
happiness than the last. I certainly do. Personally, I’ve been 
blessed. Wonderful, loving family, good health – not perfect 
but certainly nothing to complain about. I’ve completed my 
eighth year of publishing this weekly newspaper in Sierra 
Madre and surrounding communities with a fantastic group 
of supporters, contributors, and staff; and much more. As my 
parents used to say, “Be grateful you have a roof over your head 
and food on your table”, and I certainly am. However, that 
does not mean that for one minute I am not disturbed with 
much of what I see in the world outside my little bubble. 

 2014 has been a year that has really poured salt into the 
wounds of racial division that still exists in our country. And 
it is not just against African Americans, it’s against Latinos 
– “send them all back”, it’s against Asian Americans, “not in my backyard”, and everyone else who is 
‘different’. But during the last year, the African American community has garnered the most attention 
and people, including me, are upset about it. It is so hard to listen to people go on and on about how 
“Michael Brown should have just stopped when the policeman told him to”. That’s correct, however, I’ve 
read nowhere where the penalty for disobeying a police officer is immediate execution. Same goes for 
Eric Garner, the man who died in a police chokehold for selling cigarettes in New York. And on and on. 
Things are still not as they should be in this country when it comes to how we view each other.

 I had someone who I thought was a friend (not of color) tell me once that “black people just shouldn’t 
wear hoodies then we wouldn’t be scared”. Seriously. And what is so sad is that she, and probably some 
of you who are still reading this column don’t see a thing wrong with that statement. 

 We’ve got to get a grip people. The problems that plague our society do not get better by trying to make 
a particular group of people responsible for them. That goes for the racist who makes judgments based 
on ethnicity as well as those who generalize all police officers as bad. I can’t offer you any instant way to 
fix things but they must get better before our society implodes. 

 I take that back. I can tell you how we can start to make things better. We can start with ourselves. 
Let’s stop the generalizations, even jokingly, that disparage people who are different. Let’s make a 
concentrated effort for seeing people as individuals, and not as the twin of the last person we saw on the 
news. And for heaven’s sake, let’s not take what we hear on social media or even network news as gospel 
until you’ve heard the story for at least a week. Then you will know which parts are accurate. 

 Let’s deal with our fears in a rational manner. The other day I got on the elevator and before I 
reached my destination, a young white man got on. A young man who was dressed like the average 
twenty something, baggy pants, hoodie with a 
demeanor that seemed to exude ‘I don’t give a 
damn’. We rode together for what seemed like 
forever and finally I reached the floor where I 
got off. I was so relieved. And then I had to 
stop and ask myself, “why were you afraid”? 
What did that young man do to make you 
concerned about your safety? Not a damned 
thing. But, as a senior, black woman on an 
elevator alone, every negative thing that you can 
imagine flashed across my mind. Was I going 
to be assaulted, was I going to be robbed or 
what? For no reason other than my giving in 
to the stereotypes that we have for young people 
who dress like, well, young people. And, I was 
really annoyed with myself because I think I am 
really one of the most open minded people on 
the planet. I suppose that with all the hysteria 
and hype about violence and this craze of just 
running up to people and hitting them, even I 
was concerned. 

 But, I will tell you what I did do. When the 
young man got on the elevator, I nodded my 
head as to acknowledge his presence and when I 
got off, I told him to have a nice day, respecting 
him as an adult human being. That’s the kind of 
thing we all can do to help make things better. 
Show respect each other regardless of what you 
think they ought to say or do.

 Perhaps if we start with ourselves we can also 
diminish the amount of hatred that permeates 
the air. It will also help us fend off the insane 
manner that we select people to run for public 
office. In my opinion when you find a candidate 
who can only spew forth vitriolic rhethoric about 
what’s wrong and cannot articulate anything 
that he/she will DO to make things right, let’s 
pass on that candidate because they are doing 
nothing but playing on our fears and emotions. 
The government isn’t some alien entity, it is our 
government and it is the sum total of what we 
put into it.

 So I guess my welcome to 2015 message is 
let’s all do better. Let’s start with ourselves, one 
person at a time. That’s how hatred spreads, so 
let’s see if we can make love and respect spread 
the same way. Let’s make 2015 the year when 
we passionately, as individuals, work on real 
change. Ujima!* 

 *Ujima is the Kwanzaa principle of Collective Work 
and Responsibility which reminds us of our obligation 
to the past, present and future, and that we have a role 
to play in the community, society, and world.

Happy New Year!

Susan Henderson, Publisher/Editor