To the editor:

We are going through a time in which the ways that race affects everyday life are getting more attention, but, even for the well-meaning, this can be difficult to understand.

An experience I had over 20 years ago helped make this clear to me.

A Ripon College faculty member, I was teaching for a semester at Fisk University, an historically Black College. I greatly enjoyed that semester, and had many conversations with African-American students, faculty, and staff.

One day at lunch, an African-American woman and I were exchanging our happy stories of just having taken our oldest child to college. I remember how proud we both were.

But then she told me that her last words to him were that when he was pulled over by the police, he should hold both hands out the window so he wouldn’t get shot.

I was stunned, and realized that it had never occurred to me to have that conversation with my white son.

Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt has written a very illuminating book entitled “Biased” that, among other topics, looks at the different relationships that whites and blacks have with the police.

And if you are a well-meaning person who still believes that society treats whites and blacks alike, I invite you to watch a short video from a TV show called What Would You Do at

I believe that it is time for any well-meaning person to acknowledge that these differences exist, and to support change.

— Joe Hatcher

960 Thomas St.

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