PERRY: Get real — It’s not a matter of whining or joking, racism destroys in every form

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Cover of “Our American Dreams” written by members of the Class of 2023 at Aurora’s William Smith High School

Chivalry is dead.

I’m not talking about the fairytale cliche of some metal-clad guy lifting women over puddles. I’m talking about the code of decency most of us grew up with, rebuking wrongdoing and selfishness, including the form of “I got mine.”

That mercenary mindset gets no uglier than when it’s sported by white people indifferent to racism, or even worse, indulgent in it.

The last few weeks have pulled back the too-busy-to-notice facade on the seemingly endless problem of racism here in Aurora and, really, everywhere in the country.

The most worrisome part of racism here in Colorado isn’t that it remains so entrenched, it’s that so many white people either deny it even exists, or are just OK with it.

Be honest, those of us who are white have in the past and probably recently encountered some white person saying something outrageously racist and insulting without regret, reluctance or rebuke.

I’m not talking about the tacky racist comments some white people often make, about routinely asking people of color where they’re from, but never asking the same question of white people. This isn’t about white people recalling some mundane event, like standing in line for license plates “and this Black guy in front of me said he’d been in that line for the third time today.” Those kinds of remarks often stand out because the race of the guy in line would never have been mentioned if he was white.

No, I’m talking about white people who shamelessly offer up hateful tropes as casually as weather observations about ridiculous things like the driving skills of Asian women, the eating habits of Black people, the thriftiness of Jews or that all Latinos are immigrants: “Where are you from?”

Even worse? There are endless numbers of white people who see those tropes as inconsequential comedy, not baleful racism.

They don’t believe that repeating those lies, or snickering at them, just among whites of course, is not just hurtful, but, as the Anti-Defamation League and others repeatedly point out, perpetuates and escalates an atmosphere of hatred, intolerance and discrimination.

It may not seem serious if you’re white. It’s deadly serious if you’re not.

All this became painfully apparent over the past few weeks after old self-made video “advertisements” on the restaurant Facebook page of Legends of Aurora manager Steve Sundberg were made public in a Sentinel story. Sundberg is also a city councilmember.

Several of the videos are, reportedly, misguided and failed attempts to humorously advertise the restaurant’s ethnic dishes by parodying and mocking Mexicans, Arabs, Blacks, Muslims, South Asians and others.

Outrage at the clearly racist videos has been loud and consistent from the region’s, and the nation’s, communities of people of color.

From white people? Not so much.

Comments on social media and from Sentinel readers have defended Sundberg, essentially saying, “it’s only a joke,” and that the minorities targeted are being too thin brown-skinned. They point out how nice Sundberg is, and how he regularly prompts Legends to donate food to poor people and cash to local sports teams.

Others point out that his wife is a Black, African immigrant.

Being cantankerous and surly is not a prerequisite for being ignorantly or purposely racist.

One reader messaged the Sentinel to insist that Sundberg was by no means being racist in pitching enchiladas in pidgin Spanish, sporting a falsa blanket draped over his head like a poncho.

“Racism is only present if one of these tenets are present: 1) One race SUPERIOR over another race., 2) Racial LABELING, all __________ are ___________, 3) Inflicting emotional or physical harm to another based on their race, 4) Denial of Constitutional rights based on race, i.e. can’t live in this neighborhood, attend this school, eat at this restaurant,” Sentinel reader Robert Andrews said in a letter to the editor. “Unless one of these tenets are met you might be dealing with someone that is either a jerk or uses poor judgment, but not racism; there is a difference.”

No doubt that the video of Sundberg sitting on what appears to be a prayer rug, sporting a turban of some kind and a blackened beard, warbling in Arabic when he sees bacon, meets most of Andrews’ own criteria, which is meaningful only to people trying to defend the indefensible.

Racism is judging, depriving and belittling people based on their race and heritage. It’s a learned behavior, as numerous child development research and experts insist. Even more research makes clear that racism in the United States is pervasive and injurious to people of color, resulting in all kinds of inequities among white people.

This isn’t “debatable.” It’s a long understood and too often ignored fact. Despite what the Trump White House once tried to pull over on Americans, there is no such thing as “alternative facts.” Those would be lies and errors.

Despite that, there’s no shortage of Aurora residents who insist that Sundberg’s videos might have been tasteless, but they were harmless.

Similarly, several days after the Sundberg video debacle made the Sentinel and local media rounds, the Sentinel published “Growing Voices.”

The project was essentially a reprint of astonishing essays written by ninth graders at William Smith High School in Aurora, two years ago. The theme for each essay was, “The American Dream.”

Most of the essays were written by kids who were immigrants themselves, or children of recent immigrants. But not all.

“Another problem my family and I deal with is social discrimination, not just in professional places, but sometimes when we are just having family time in public places,” writes Sariah Rose Amir. “My grandpa says that he was discriminated against his whole life. He told me that people in stores would yell at him to go back to where he came from, although he is from here. He is a fifth-generation Coloradan.”

Most of the essays talked about perseverance and advice from parents who said hard work and confidence are rewarded in America with the best-possible version of the American Dream. Reading these kids’ essays about their plights and dreams made me embarrassed about hand-wringing over my own relatively paltry tribulations, and underestimating my good fortune to have been born white in Colorado.

That’s not the same reaction all this provoked from some Sentinel readers and a bevy of social media trolls.

“Congratulations, race-baiters,” regular anonymous Sentinel commenter “Hypocrisy Monitor” said in a recent comment on the “Growing Voices” package of essays. “Through a public education system, you have convinced a vast population of children that they are oppressed victims of a land of opportunity. Sadly, they will march forward with their victimization mentality as an enduring excuse for any self-imposed failure in life. Society will pay the price.”

Ignoring local racism is dangerous enough, but trying to gaslight millions of people of color, and white people, into believing that racism doesn’t exist, and that everyone needs to quit blaming some white people and racism for the troubles of minorities is absolutely the worst.

This is what officials from Colorado’s Anti-Defamation League are talking about when they say this is part of an escalation of hate. It increases and ultimately justifies the hate of others. Unstopped, it ends in violence, and in the 1930s and 1940s, it led to the Holocaust.

History, unlike too many people, doesn’t lie. Our job right now, as grown-ups, is to keep our nation from repeating it.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Mastadon, Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

 

  

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Omen Cross
Omen Cross
29 days ago

Are you really surprised? As often as this Council shirks the law, the Charter, and their own regulations to do whatever they wish? As of right now, most of the majority is their own Human Centipede. The Mayor is the head, with the rest connected in turn. As I see it, the order goes: the Mayor, Sundberg, Jurinsky, Zevonik, and Gardner bringing up the end, as Bergen plays cheerleader for Team Centipede. Maybe if they want to prove me wrong, they’ll stop speaking and protecting each other from punishment for their repeated “shit-speech”. But I dont honestly think any of these know how to be good people anymore. They’ve been too spoiled, too protected for too long. Their white privilege is blatant, their selfish discrimination and bias obvious. So for as long as they keep playing Centipede together, im gonna keep reminding everyone how disgusting that is. They dont like that? They can negotiate with the ONLY person that gives me orders. Me. Period.

Last edited 29 days ago by Omen Cross
Johnny On It
Johnny On It
29 days ago
Reply to  Omen Cross

Mr. Cross, I recall you said you’d be running for mayor a while back. When will you be making your formal announcement? Mayor Mike threw his hat in a couple of days ago.

Omen Cross
Omen Cross
29 days ago
Reply to  Johnny On It

I would be happy to. However, by city ordinance candidates must obtain their petition with 100 signatures to be official. While I have absolutely no problem standing up to the Mayor. In debate, on TV, and in person. It is the will of those that want it to happen or not that will make such a decision. So far, ive heard people that want real changes made, but don’t believe that I personally plan to change anything. This is fallacy. As I have a slew of alterations on my own immediate agenda.
1:The Homeless problem. This is assuredly complex, and no matter what you do someone won’t be happy. However my own experiences(really being homeless for years and struggling, not just dressing up like the Mayor did) as well as my conversations with others, have identified major flaws in their setup. Their Networking is terrible, their cooperation between agencies worse. I have already spoken to some on the Council about changes that need made to both the method of dealing with this, as well as the methods of getting people off the streets into new lives, not just stuck in shelters or closet apartments off taxpayer money. But Mayor Coffman and his ilk won’t listen, because they only vote for their own opinions.
2: Discrimination and Hatred in the community. We all know you cant force people that harbor discriminatory thoughts to change. But we can stop treating the behavior like its ok and acceptable. Aurora, as well as most of the Metro and state, still allow for many instances of workplace and educational discrimination. In most cases, only the victims of this suffer, as businesses and educational facilities continue to operate without even fines while abusing the workforce and citizens. The time for continually protecting business owners as they act in illegally racist, sexist, religiously biased, political Party bias, and a multitude of other ways has ended. The same hold true for the Council. All must be held to the same standards of decency, not different standards based on your skin color and which party you choose.
3: Marijuana funds. They just said how they spent millions in MJ revenue to build things. They have and will spend millions more. But they still treat the taxpayers like trash for doing what has been legal in this state for years. This sort of backwards thinking while still spending the revenue is intolerable. I have intent to stop this, and either push federal regulators( like Crow and Hickenlooper, like the Governor and other regional leaders) to change the legislation. Doing what is legal without causing injury or being intoxicated at work/on the roads is simply another form of discrimination. They will never change this, because the current Council likes treating anyone other than themselves like criminals for how they live. They are too old-fashioned. Hell, the Mayor probably still believes in Reefer Madness.
4: Positive growth. We have all seen how many murders, how much crime, how many thefts and other acts of selfish criminality has tainted the city. I have already presented ideas to members of the Council that I will see implemented even without being elected. Some of my suggestions have already been made official, they just dont attach my name to it. This prevents the Mayor and his cronies from immediately voting down something they knew I came up with. But other concepts are still in the pipeline. The, “City of Aurora Lighthouse of Hope Award” has been in the meetings and planning stages for months. My newest idea, my early Christmas present to the City, was presented to Council a couple weeks ago. As usual, it is not up to me how long it takes for this to become reality. You got slow politicians refusing to do work for anyone but themselves. Perhaps if they try harder, I2I Fest will be a reality this summer. But at this rate, it may be years before they get it set up. This will be monies lost, not just for a Party or a person, but for all kinds of charities. So their laziness now is not hurting me, it is hurting the people all of those charities help every day.
5: Accountability. Aurora has gone insane lately. How many times must the same Party shut down censure hearings in private, act in both racist and sexist ways then dismiss them, amd constantly shirks the City Charter with no punishment? People look at me and say, “He must be doing something I dont like”. As such if I was elected, every eye would be on me to ensure I wasn’t breaking the law. Thats fine, as I dont have illegal intents. But this standard should apply to every Council Member also. They should be held to the standards they try to force on their political opponents. One standard, across the board. Not one standard for one Party, and another for everyone else.
This is not the extent of the things I would intend to push for if I was elected to any office. But that is not my decision. It is up to the voters, the people. If the people do not wish my help, I will simply aid those who oppose these people. But I will not bang on doors begging people to listen. I got work to do, cause all of y’all need your stuff delivered. If the Council Members want my help with a project, they’ll get in touch with me. They have my number. If the people of the City want my help, all they need do is ask and support me in that endeavor. If not, I will still influence the election itself, even if not personally involved. However, this would not be nearly as entertaining as me debating the Mayor or another Council Member. Imagine it. The guy they cant shut up even surrounded by cops in City Hall, calling them out on their bullshit live to the world. Imagine their stuttering, their ignorant reactions. Man it would be quite a show. But the choice on whether that show will happen doesnt lie with a Party, or with the Council. Only the Will of the People can make that show happen. So if ya wanna see the show, demand it be allowed to happen. If not, I hope you like repeats. Cause without someone new in the political arena, all you will hear in 2023 is more false promises and excuses. Will the City live and prosper, or continue to degenerate into pure Chaos? Will Aurora live, or die? All of you will make our choice.

Johnny On It
Johnny On It
28 days ago
Reply to  Omen Cross

100 signatures seem very doable to get the process started. But are you saying you won’t campaign other than debating the mayoral candidates? If so, that is foolhardy.

You’ll need a grassroots ground game to compete. Know that Coffman and Marcano will knock on plenty of doors.

DICK MOORE
28 days ago
Reply to  Omen Cross

Come on Omen, run for Mayor. Please. You are needed. I see from your comments that you have an agenda already. You could get 100 signers easily by standing in front of City Hall or maybe just at a current Council meeting. You can do it!

Just a curiosity though, is your real name Omen? I once knew a man whose name was Andor Orand. We had great times together.

Omen Cross
Omen Cross
28 days ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

How about this? I see at least 2 people that want what would be called, “A New Challenger Appears”. I work alot atm, but I’d happily be where I can be to obtain such, were I to expect that 100 people want this to happen. But perhaps what should happen is these damn news sources should cover this possibility. Mayve if all of Aurora knew why I was even considering joining the Battle for the souls of Aurora, they’d understand. I personally experienced Mayor Coffman betraying not only his oath to the citizens of Aurora, but his blatant disregard for the Soldier’s Code. He deserves no right to get votes as a Veteran, for violating the most basic of rules: Never leave a fallen comrade. He also claims faith that his actions and policies do not coincide with. This is something that all people who share said faith should be disgusted by. He uses his bully majority to push bad policies, knowing it will only hinder future Councils.

I am just one guy. I dont have a Party. I dont even have a group of friends I hang out with. I dont have donors and sponsors pushing me to fight the Mayor. All I have is the Will to stand if required. And the strength, apparently, to force the whole majority to back down, even when surrounded by cops. If this is something the People require, feel free to contact me directly, and we’ll set something up. Individuals, charities, you just gotta have the balls to get in touch. Tell your friends and families the same thing. If we did that, 100 register signatures would be pretty easy.

[email protected] . Hit me up. And to the other question, no, this is not my given name. But the only reason this isn’t yet my legal name is only because of the associated court and other costs to change it. Someday, only Omen Cross will remain.

Johnny On It
Johnny On It
26 days ago
Reply to  Omen Cross

I, for one, would welcome “the show.”

Afraid
Afraid
29 days ago

Hello Mr. Perry, I agree bout increase in violence. We have lived here in Aurora for 20 years now and are eagerly looking forward to escaping the terrifying increase in violence that has happened over the last 3-5 years. We no longer go for walks in our neighborhood, no longer attend any social gatherings, and run all our errands in a strategic manner that minimizes risk. We are looking to move to a small rural town that is boring and safe before we are too old to manage it. We cannot help but notice the violence increase here in Aurora has coincided with an obvious change in the population demographics. We regularly monitor the nearly non stop reporting of shootings, stabbing, auto thefts, porch pirating, etc. Things that would have shocked the entire Denver metro area, if not the whole state in 2003, are now common daily occurrences. We cannot help but notice that the FBI and other entities tracking the demographic characteristics of both victims and perpetrators have statistics indicating that a very small percentage of our current population, about 5% +/- is responsible for about 60% of all violent crime. We have no interest in continuing to live in what appears to be some sort of new smaller version of Chicago. Unlike you, we feel we are too old and worn out to spend what is left of our lives in battling as social justice warriors in the midst of what has obviously become an open air insane asylum.

If we can sell the house and afford to buy a modest home where we can find some measure of peace for the last 20 years of our lives…by moving to a place that more closely resembles the Aurora that existed in 2003, we feel we owe it to ourselves to do so. It seems to us that Aurora has been overrun by people who, ironically, while fleeing horrible conditions in large cities elsewhere, have brought all the behaviors they had hoped to escape to our community. Of course it is not entirely the fault of new arrivals, it seems the resulting disintegration of norms and common decency has allowed Colorado natives, who might otherwise have repressed their inner asshole, to express the sort of behavior that would in the past have been noticeable and for which they would have been held to account. We feel it is not possible to assimilate 10,000 new arrivals per month and maintain any semblance of normalcy to which new arrivals can adapt themselves. What we have now is total chaos and mayhem. For a time, I grew up in a low income housing project (“the projects”) back east as a kid, and so I recognized the signs and omens encroaching upon us here in Heather Gardens over the last five years. I managed to escape the projects as a teenager, the only sane thing to do was to get the hell out, and I have no intention of spending my retirement in a game of Russian roulette here in the Denver metro area. The facts are the facts. You may call it “white flight” but it is merely enlightened self interest based on experiential evidence. Though my ancestors were allegedly Italian, Austrian, German, Irish, Scottish, and Swedish, who really knows, I could care less about any of that crap. I know next to nothing substantive about any of those places outside of what anyone can pick up on TV. I also have zero interest in being white. I am totally satisfied with just being an American. No need to affiliate with any sub culture group be it political, religious, racial, ethnic, or even gender. Let’s face it things are such, and there’s no going back, that it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. It’s a force of nature, like a massive tidal wave, and to stand and scream at it when you have to option to run for higher ground seems just plain suicidal.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
29 days ago
Reply to  Afraid

Odd, I have lived in Aurora since 1966 and have zero problems with violence or any other crime for that matter. I haven’t noticed any “chaos and mayhem” from black, white or green citizens. You seem to be a coward and moving would appear to be a good option.

DICK MOORE
28 days ago
Reply to  Good Citizen

Good Citizen it appears for roughly 56 years in Aurora, you have not been paying attention to local happenings or you are blind and just stay in your home.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
27 days ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Another coward heard from.

the name is the game
the name is the game
27 days ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Dick, reassuring all.

OIP.jpg
Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
24 days ago
Reply to  Good Citizen

 I haven’t noticed any “chaos and mayhem” from black, white or green citizens.”

Maybe you should read the Sentinel, dingbat, even they report on all the happenings.

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
24 days ago

Perhaps. I haven’t noticed any chaos and mayhem personally since I will put a bullet into anyone that attempts to bring chaos or mayhem my way, be they white black or green. If you have experienced chaos and mayhem, I suggest you learn to defend yourself, or continue to whine, which isn’t really a viable alternative.

Jim S
Jim S
17 days ago
Reply to  Good Citizen

Just what the world needs. Another questionable “citizen” on the loose with a gun willing to “put a bullet in anyone” they deem a threat. Nice!

Last edited 17 days ago by Jim S
Good Citizen
Good Citizen
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim S

Another coward heard from.

The name is the game
The name is the game
24 days ago

Uncle Sam to Factory Working Orphan

uncle-sam-stop-whining.jpg
Johnny On It
Johnny On It
26 days ago

Dear Sentinel Editor: “But perhaps what should happen is these damn news sources should cover this possibility.”

There you have it. It seems Mr. Cross’ interest here (and previous commitment) to run for mayor deserves at least a bit of coverage in your intrepid newspaper, don’t you think? His email is above.

I can see the headline: Formerly homeless U.S. veteran to challenge Mayor “Homeless Mike” Coffman to lead Aurora.

Publius
Publius
24 days ago

I watched the public comment period at the council meeting last evening. I found the defense of Mr. Sundberg from those who know him compelling. I know it is not fashionable in today’s political climate to allow for growth and to embrace redemption, but as for me, I will not join the mob seeking to destroy the man or remove the politician. I will reside in the watch and observe camp.