Letter to the editor: Racism relates to expectations

In response to Walter Backstrom’s column (“Racial truths and the education of Federal Way,” June 7), I am truly sorry for your bitterness.

I understand some of it and offer my sincere condolences to you for the friends you lost and the experiences that haunt you.

I do not know what happened in Federal Way to add to your belief that this is a hostile environment.

I have found Federal Way to be a wonderful, friendly, diverse and thus interesting place to raise my family. I coined the Diversity Commission slogan “A City for All of Us.” I believed it in 1993, and I still do.

While we decidedly have not reached the mountaintop, we (black, white and all) are on the mountainside, making real progress. We can’t afford to slide backward because of the statistics of people who have choices, albeit somewhat limited, and choose poorly.

I suggest that these statistics and others are less about racism and more about want, ignorance and low expectations, within whatever race.

Having worked with kids a lot, could you possibly consider that using the “N word,” while inexcusable and very hurtful to those of us who’ve had a history longer than theirs, could be more a teenage need to shock and dismay than true racism? I’ve seen kids joking around, using that word with their friends. These days there is a profound difference. Fortunately, my kids don’t use that word — or other offensive words, I hope.

Much of what we perceive today as racism has much to do with expectations.

When I fell in love with my black husband in 1990, I noticed people looking at us oddly. The interesting revelation for me was that I was staring at them, expecting them to look at us oddly. They probably wondered why I was staring at them.

We have lived happily ever after since, raising two beautiful, very well-adjusted children — because they expect acceptance and get it. For us, that is the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There are racists, no doubt. I have no time for them. I have no need for their approval. The vast majority of Americans of any race no longer feel race is divisive.

The contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was, for me, less about the first black president or the first female president, as it was the first capable president in eight long years. Quality eventually must overrride predjudices, if this country is to prosper.

Federal Way has been a great home for us for 18 years. Please give it another chance, with renewed perspective.

A middle-aged, happy white woman,

Kathy S. McFall-Butler,

Federal Way


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