I am a white woman who grew up in the south. As a child going to school in Montgomery, Alabama just after they became integrated, I was too young to be very aware of racial issues. I was aware that the black students and families that I knew were at a societal and economic disadvantage. I have always had empathy for blacks in the south, and have always supported the advancement of black causes. Now as an adult, I live in Atlanta. Since moving here in 1991, I have slowly become dismayed at the state of affairs. I have been the victim of racism numerous times from black people who obviously assume that I am racist because I am white. I live in East Atlanta where violent crime by young black men is rampant, and teenage pregnancy is the norm. While I understand that many white people still have a way to go in their attitude towards black people, at some point the black community has to admit that there are real reasons for racism that need to be addressed. When the vast majority of crimes we see committed are by young black men, and when we hear the violent and sexist lyrics that dominate popular black music, we find it frightening. How can we determine who is a good guy and who is a bad guy? Too many people have given up, and choose to avoid groups of black men rather than risk their own safety. Racism will start to dissipate when the black community stands up and decides that they have had enough of the violent and criminal black men defining their image. Parents must teach their kids what the march on Washington was for- not to give them license to be criminals and young unwed parents, but to be judged by the content of their character. Unfortunately, the character of too many young black people does not warrant being treated with respect. I truly believe that the black community can change these attitudes much more rapidly when they are willing to admit that there are changes still to be made within their own culture. Maybe I'm naive, but I truly believe that most white people want to send the end of racism as well. But it will take all of us, black and white, to make it happen.
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