OPED: The good from Grandview Golf Club incident
Seeing the recent surge of news articles and editorials regarding the Grandview Golf Club incident, I am thankful for the progress we as a town and as a country have made over the past several decades. The intense scrutiny that the club received for allegedly singling out five African American women, members of the golf club, stretched to include commentary from national talk shows.
I believe it is safe to reason that we find the incident and racist behavior to be unacceptable — but this has not always been our collective sentiment.
Racism is a disease that has plagued us locally and continues to do so. Some of our older readers may remember the hot summer of 1969, boiling with racial tension. Young woman Lillie Belle Allen was made into a political martyr because of a lack of cultural relativism. Her death was wrongful and ushered in by the lack of education that some small-minded locals had. It is much easier to see an event like this happening in the late 60s than it is to envision such a tragedy occurring today, for which I am grateful, but we must still recognize the problems that exist.
Just last year we saw outrageous behavior from some of our young and fragile minds at York County School of Technology. These children decided it was acceptable to harass other students in their learning environment with racial slurs and oppressive speech. Something corrupted their minds and poisoned them with racist ideologies.
There are so many factors that can lead to this kind of behavior. Instead of chastising those teens or their parents, we can instead share the blame as a community that allowed this to happen. We see racism tolerated far too much, and we know how much of a detriment it is to our culture, which is supposed to celebrate differences. We need to spread understanding and prevent any group of people from suffering for birth-given dissimilarities.
Inaction cannot be our policy. Complacency in confronting these issues is unacceptable and immoral when we know about the suffering their persistence entails. We bear this burden of emancipating our community from racism together. We must take action and spread our understanding to those who are sadly uninformed or misinformed. Being part of this social action can mean shifting your perspective or shifting someone else’s. Be part of a protest or a demonstration, or just encourage those who are close to you to consider the impact of their actions and attitudes on others.
It is ordinary that we have another altercation between different ethnic groups. What impresses me is the attention that was brought to a comparably small breach of equality. The Grandview Golf Club released apology statements, implying that it recognizes that its position is wrong and socially unacceptable. I have heard my peers and teachers discussing the absurdity of the actions against the women in my high school and even my own home.
The flaws made that day at Grandview are not terminal and can be corrected. These events can bring out some of the best of our community. We can see the strong backing these women have in enduring and overcoming racism. While this situation was brought to light because of racism, it was highlighted and scrutinized to an extent that is reassuring. It is evident that racist ideologies are no longer acceptable to a vast number of people in our community and nationally.
Our culture is wonderfully not homogenous — our differences strengthen our community and expose us to variety. Cultural relativism is an integral part of this. We should not judge others through our belief system, but respect theirs, and understand them through theirs. If you truly understand the experiences that have led someone to become who they are, it is much easier to show love and compassion to them. Racism is the result of a lack of cultural relativism, and should be extinguished by the strength of our community.
— Julian A. Gifford-Mahaney is a senior at York Suburban High School. Julian’s essay is a senior English project focusing on cultural tension and cultural relativism.