The current toxic racial atmosphere reminds some of the 1960s. The disturbances in Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere indicate we have failed to progress very far since that era. The answer to why that is so is, I think, twofold.
White Americans need to acknowledge that for generations, black Americans have been denied adequate opportunities for advancement. Their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been consistently violated. This needs to stop.
On the other hand, black Americans need to understand that nothing warrants the abnegation of personal responsibility for one’s actions. Rioting and looting only serve the cause of those who want to portray black Americans as reckless and untrustworthy. This, too, needs to stop.
The solutions to our national crisis are neither black nor white. They reside in the vast gray area of compromise and understanding, where the work of a democracy is properly conducted. The keys are civility, compassion and justice.
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Michael Zygmunt of Kansas City has been retired from a civil service job for about five years and has lived in the Kansas City area for 35 to 40 years.