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Remember we are all Americans first

DEAR EDITOR:

I was quite young when Martin Luther King Jr. taught me about the value of a person’s character and that through nonviolence we were learning to define ourselves more clearly as one American people.

It was no surprise to me, then, that throughout my early education, I never encountered racism or prejudice because of my heritage. That changed in college when I was told by a black woman, that as a Hispanic woman, I fell below blacks on the spectrum of human value. I thought it was strange that any person would consider that such a difference even existed.

The fact that racism is not simply white on black became clear as I encountered it repeatedly throughout my life from both black and white individuals. I now understood, more deeply, how certain attitudes and ideas are learned from our experiences. I also began to see how using race to fuel division was a device manipulated by those in power to maintain and gain more power.

Nonetheless, the power of choice belongs to each individual — power to choose our actions and reactions with integrity and character, power to choose love over hate, forgiveness over retribution and hope over fear because, in this wonderful country, in these United States of America, our God-given freedoms are acknowledged.

We must, therefore, protect that freedom. We must not abandon our divine human dignity to succumb to those who destroy and loot and burn. Power gained through lies and deception, whether in or outside our government, will drown the American voice and take away our freedom to be individuals with differing ideas, to hold open discussions, to think critically, to build consensus and to respectfully live and work together. Under the facade of social justice through violence and in their lust for power, they will destroy our democratic republic.

In this beloved nation of immigrants, I will stand hand in hand with people of all creeds, colors and backgrounds to advance the human condition. There is one race — the human race. Yes, I am blessed to live in America, one nation under God, where every imperfect citizen has the right to be free and in that freedom, to act responsibly, to do no harm unto others but to do their best to live with integrity and character. I am proud and privileged to be an American — Hispanic yes, but I am American first.

EVELYN JONES

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