My Turn: The past will repeat itself if we don’t confront it

  • A mural with portraits of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery in Tampa in 2021. Octavio Jones/ Washington Post

For the Monitor
Published: 3/5/2022 7:00:46 AM

As New Hampshire has banned CRT in the state, I tend to wonder if these lawmakers understand what it actually is. The basis of CRT is all about the way laws in these United States are cleverly written which are race-based to keep people of color down.

To say that this country has had a very inequitable past and that the horrible incidents of our past happen to this very day. Yes, the history of this country was a horrible thing depending on one's race. And I’m afraid that the past tends to repeat itself if no one can see how wrong things were and how they keep repeating themselves.

Because of the progress that some Black people have made in this country, some people believe this is no longer a very racist place. Wrong! Sam Cooke once sang a song aloud, that a change is gonna come, and even from when he belted out those lyrics, not much change has come to pass.

In the time of MLK., Malcolm Little and Medgar Evers, who gave their lives for that change. Here forty-four years later, the horror of those days and before are rearing their ugly heads at some point, as well as all over this country, time and time again. To me, it’s like, how can we all not see this?

Many of us tend to make excuses or settle on the fact that it has nothing to do with you personally, so why should I care. Critical Race Theory has been around since the 1970s and it incases the entire paradigm of race relations in this country. From the 1619 Project to George Floyd and beyond.

As of late, the case of the three men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Marquez Arbery and were found guilty. Many people out there truly believe that this murder was something rare when it really wasn’t. Here are a few names to look up: Emmett Louis Till, James Byrd, Jr., Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Trayvon Benjamin Martin. And not to forget entire areas such as Slocum, Texas; The Dreamland area of Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Rosewood, Florida.

As a Black man living here in New Hampshire for well over twenty years right here in Concord alone, for example, I have shopped at the Walmart on Loudon Road for all those years and I have been followed around and beeped from their fairly new indicator cameras almost every time I go in.

When Bradley’s was at Ft Eddy’s Plaza, my ex-wife and myself were in a deep conversation about our kids and all of a sudden an employee fell out of one of the aisle racks and swore that it wasn’t us he was watching, but no one else was around. At Market Basket, in that same plaza, I was shopping and had to go from one side of the store to the other and back. I was stopped by an employee and was told that it was hard to keep up with me. Why do you need to keep up with me, I asked? He replied with a clearing of his throat and simply walked away.

Or my goddaughter who is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl who loves me as a family member. I have two important stories about her. Her family were my neighbors here in Concord but they were actually from Maine. The family made many trips to Maine and my godchild would get car sick on these trips. So a number of times when they did go for the weekend, her father would ask if I could babysit her for the time they were gone.

A few times I had to take her shopping with me and as she sat in the child carry portion of my shopping cart, on many occasions whenever I stepped away to get something from a high rack random people would bend down to her and ask her if she was okay. In fact, it happened so many times that she asked me why they were doing that. My honest answer to her was that sometimes when a child looks out of place, people get concerned and actually want to make sure they are okay, but sometimes people are simply racist and they think the worst.

A few times later when she went shopping with me and I was reaching for a product which was just out of reach, I heard her say to someone, “Are you a racist?” When I turned back to look, a man and woman were walking away with their shopping cart and did their best not to make eye contact with me.

Another time when my godchild was at my house when she was a little older, I had a rule in my kitchen that when you are done eating, you are to empty anything left on the plate in the trash can and put everything you used in the sink. She told me that she didn’t have to because she was white and that I was Black and that she was better than me because of it.

I wanted to yell at her but I figured it would be best to bring it up with her parents as soon as they got back. I knew that someone close to her had told her that and according to her father, it must have been his father-in-law. He told me that he would talk to her and have a word with his father-in-law, as he apologized.

I have story after story about bigotry rearing its ugly head here in Concord, let alone the state of New Hampshire. My critical race theory on that is that I am a Black man in this country. I can see where CRT should be taught here in our schools. Of course, it should be taught in a meek way as not to make any of these children feel belittled or frowned upon. This country does have a horrific past and omitting it is obviously fruitless.

(J. R. Curtis lives in Concord.)

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