Letter: Public incitement versus information in the news

The Sun-Gazette

“First, do no harm.” It has been good advice for physicians for centuries. It probably should be an oath sworn by our public news media as well. When a newspaper incites instead of informs, they have sacrificed their credibility.

A nearby newspaper recently ran a public forum on Facebook where panelists discussed “systemic racism in Tulare County.” A member of the viewing public posted a comment that stated “Whites are the enemy.” The forum organizers apparently lost their moral compass.

An editor of the paper moderated the panel and displayed a 90-year old photo of a [Ku Klux Klan] parade in Visalia—it seems fair to call that incitement. He then stated there was a proposal to move the California KKK headquarters to Visalia in the mid-1980s—that too was simply incitement. He failed to tell the audience the rest of the story. Thirty-five years ago, his newspaper reported that one man made that proposal and 500 citizens responded by marching to his auto parts store to tell him, “No!”

We cannot undo our racial history, but America has made enormous progress in offering equal opportunity to every citizen since the Civil Rights Act was approved in 1964. That year there were only five Black members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2021, there are now 59. They are now 13.6% of all members—nearly identical to their 13.3% share of the total U.S. population. California has 53 members in Congress—5.6% of them are Black— identical to their 5.6% percent portion of the state’s population. Similarly, the 17 Hispanic members comprise 32% of our state’s delegation.

Progress? Yes! But let us acknowledge that racism is still alive. We can, however, celebrate what unites us. And condemn those who seek to divide us.

For instance, let us celebrate Orosi High School. Over 95% of their students are Hispanic and 96% are classified as “socioeconomically disadvantaged.” But 53% of their 2020 graduates met the requirements for admission to the California State or University of California colleges. That exceeded the state average and only Redwood High School scored higher in Tulare County.

Some of their parents may work in the fields but they and their school teachers are preparing Orosi’s kids for a higher level of future professional and economic success. Let us applaud today’s families that are successfully achieving the same American Dream that my own immigrant grandparents had for their descendants over a century ago.

Jerrold Jensen

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