‘How did we so badly lose our way?’

22 Jun 2020 | 10:58

    Editor’s note: This is a letter in response to a column in last week’s newspaper by Sabrina Jennings about her experience as a Black woman living in Warwick.

    Hey, Sabrina,

    I’m sorry to hear about what happened to you on June 3. I’m sorry and I’m angry.

    What happened to you happened on my street, not far from my house. I was probably working at home when it happened. You’re probably right, that it was some punk kids, but at least one of them was a racist punk kid, and you know he learned it from somewhere.

    My husband and I have only been here since early 2019, and, so far, we haven’t heard about, or witnessed, too much in the way of racism in Warwick. But, then again, we’re white.

    Thanks for your honesty, Sabrina. It seems brave to me, what you did, what you wrote to the people of your town. Our town.

    Home is supposed to be where you can just be yourself. You shouldn’t have to look over your shoulder at home, or wait for the next shoe to drop.

    And none of us should ever get used to saying, “That’s Warwick for you.”

    Being home so long with not that much to do has given me a lot of time to think. With everything going on in the world and in the country right now, I’ve mostly been thinking about what kind of world I want to live in, what kind of country, what kind of town. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d be thinking about that stuff even more.

    I’m sure I’m dating myself, but I remember a Coke commercial from my childhood: “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” It was a real hippie-dippy, multicultural, utopian vision, everyone coming out to the top of a big hill, joining hands. If you don’t know it, just YouTube, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.”

    Sure, they were selling a soft drink, but they were also selling a way of looking at the world. Interconnected. More similar than different. One big human family. That is the ideal. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be striving for? Isn’t that what America is supposed to be about?

    I’m not suggesting we all quit our jobs and join a commune, but we knew this stuff 50 years ago. We knew that America stood for freedom and equality and respect for each other’s diversity, even if we hadn’t yet figured out how to make it all a reality.

    How did we so badly lose our way?

    Sabrina, thanks for starting this conversation. I hope we can continue to talk about what we want our town to be like and take action to make it that way. Warwick has a reputation for being a tough little town that stands up to the forces that want to change it for the worse. This town is committed to protecting and preserving its specialness. This is why I’m encouraged.

    When Warwick puts its mind to something, it gets it done. I believe Warwick can be stronger and better than that racist punk and his buddies in that car. It sounds like you think so, too. Maybe one of these days we can get a socially distanced coffee together and you can show me around our town.

    Colleen Tyler

    Warwick