Systemic racism is a reality in U.S.

I’m responding to an April 23 letter claiming systemic racism is a false narrative. It’s possible we have something in common. The writer’s name, like Skutley, is Scandinavian. My Norwegian ancestors immigrated to Wisconsin in 1897. They experienced ups and downs in this country; the downs pronounced when I was a child. My father became disabled in his 50s; my mother worked as a bakery clerk to support a family of seven. Nevertheless, I completed college thanks to financial aid and bank loans.

In truth, I often didn’t know what I was doing. But I learned that, by keeping my mouth shut, people assumed the best in me, and I advanced in my career. If my skin had been black, I doubt that my blank stares would have been blindly rewarded. Over the years, we have all been fed negative stereotypes about Black people. Those images are especially toxic in Eau Claire, where there are few Black individuals to counter them by allowing us to get to know each other.

These negative stereotypes — of inferior character and “necessary” hierarchy — created and continue to uphold systemic racism. Yes, it’s real. It has jailed people at a higher rate for nonviolent offenses, torn communities apart by separating them with interstate highways, and denied Black people loans for housing in desirable neighborhoods.

We are called on to atone for injustices set in motion before our lifetimes. To better understand that history, read “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. She describes the lives of three individuals — and others — who migrated north and west for a better life. What caused them to leave their homes? Lynchings, cruelty and injustice. Instead of asking whether systematic racism exists, work to accept our common humanity and need for peaceful, prosperous lives.

Mary Lynn Skutley

Eau Claire

Accomplishments tough given GOP

Another Earth Day has come and gone. Every year news articles and TV episodes appear showing do-gooders cleaning up trails and picking up trash in the cities streets. Enough — back to normal. Polls show people are concerned about police brutality, the economy, the boarder. Low on the list is climate change. Meanwhile wildfire season has begun in Arizona and Australia.

California is bracing for another terrible summer, and oceans are warming, causing weather patterns to change. President Joe Biden puts fourth ideas to save our country much less the planet. Sadly a change in the way we go about our business will have to change.

Limiting greenhouse gasses comes with a price tag. The GOP naturally is against anything that could cause a change in tax policy. Their belief that tax cuts solve problems is threatened. Not only don’t Republicans have any kind of plan of their own to solve the climate problem but they don’t have any kind of solution for anything. Furthermore, any plan put fourth by Democrats is met with every effort to kill it.

Biden talked about bipartisanship. That’s very hard to do with GOP leadership of the kind with Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy. They are against anything Democratic and never have a counter proposal. Why is the U.S. stuck with these people? The planet is in bad shape, so what is the main concern of the GOP? Pass voter restriction laws. Since they have no plans for anything, their aim is to gain political power by discouraging the voters on the other side. Happy Earth Day.

John Fadness

Chippewa Falls