Community Perspective: Has Jim Crow Returned to Harrisonburg?

A contributed perspectives piece by Dennis Askin

You would think that in the 21st Century with all the educated individuals, professionals and hardworking citizens in Harrisonburg, we should have erased the racism that was so prevalent in Virginia since before the Civil War.

I served in a war and my country with pride in the military until I retired and continue to serve as a military civilian. I thought by serving, I was preserving our American way of life—respecting others so they may prosper also. My friends who died in war also believed in equality for all.

I can see now this is not true any longer. My children are of mixed race and love the United States of America. One child even served as a Marine. Recently one of my children was called the “N” word with no provocation towards that person. He said it because my child was not white.

My child’s JMU colleague, also of color, was spit on in the face, called the “N” word and other nasty words by an angry white woman in her 50/60s in the Harrisonburg U.S. Post Office. The woman did this just because this young adult politely asked the woman without a mask not cut in line in front of them. Everyone in the building was white to include the workers at the counter and everyone ignored the assault and just looked away.

How horrible and traumatizing for this person to experience this nasty overt racism. This person had to go to their car clean themselves off and shed many tears because they had never experienced this before. They did not call the Police because of the fear that all the white people who just witnessed the assault would deny what occurred because they said nothing to the woman.

Why would somebody do such a nasty thing? What possible purpose did they have to use racial slurs and spit on this nice young adult? This incident occurred before the COVID vaccine was approved, which makes the assault even worse.

I sure wish I could send that women to the other countries I had to deploy to and force them to live without the rights they enjoy in this country. Just because you are white doesn’t give you the right spit on a person and say hurtful and despicable words because they don’t look like you. That woman and anyone else who treats people in this manner should be the one who should have to depart this country and live someplace else.

Is this what Harrisonburg is all about, falling back to the racism of the 60s and prior era? Will Harrisonburg now try to ban marriages between white and people of color again?

Get a grip citizen of Harrisonburg! Wake up and say something when you witness such overt racism, when you are silent you are no better than the person committing the act. Just like our Lord has stated, treat others like you would like to be treated.

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