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Keep Santa Fe’s welcoming nature

September 16, 2018

When racism rears its ugly head, we mumble, “Not again.” When it deigns to lift it in our backyard, we express shock — “Not here!” How can we be surprised? Have we forgotten the reception the comedian Dave Chappelle received from one of us in Santa Fe in 2015 (a banana peel tossed at him), and the public questioning as to whether this actually was an expression of racism?

No, none of us should be surprised. We must shout, “Not here,” but that is not enough. We must also take responsibility for racism in Santa Fe by looking into ourselves. What are our own silently held biases? Are we willing to speak up when we hear a racist slur?

Do we make excuses when we are invited to attend a workshop on bias, and are we unwilling to stand up to the ugliness toward “the other” that has become acceptable behavior on both the private and public stage?

The recent incident at Allsup’s convenience store made us aware once again (“Student’s racial profiling charge at local Allsup’s goes national,” Aug. 10), that Santa Fe, no matter how much we love its “difference,” is not immune to the hate and bias openly spreading across the country.

The Santa Fe branch of the NAACP is well aware of the many incidents of racism and bias against people of color, Muslims, immigrants and refugees, the homeless and those in the LGBTQI community that occur but are not made public. Our organization hears from many of those who have been so abused, seeking our help.

If you are concerned that the qualities so many of us have valued about our sanctuary city — diversity, open-mindedness, willingness to welcome the stranger — may be slipping away, please join us in speaking up for acceptance and the right of all peoples to live the lives they aspire to without interference here in the city they have chosen to visit or in which they have chosen to settle — Santa Fe.

Byron Treaster is president of the Santa Fe branch of the NAACP. Bo Keppel is a member of the executive committee of the NAACP.

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