This week's disgusting display in Buffalo, New York, has us reflecting on the ugliness of racism in our own community, because this is far from just Buffalo's problem.
A number of years ago, the Source Weekly ran a series highlighting how racism was "hiding in plain sight" around Central Oregon. As much as we'd like to say that people have evolved and that recent racial justice protests have made more people aware of the harm caused by white supremacy, it seems the opposite is true. Racism in Central Oregon doesn't hide in plain sight—it is writ large.
In one instance in Madras, it's been forced into people's faces as they make the drive from parts west or north along Highway 97. It is there that the Ding Ho Chinese Restaurant, recently closed, has for over a week displayed a derogatory attempt at imitating a Chinese accent and message on its sign.
It's not just people of color or those from marginalized groups who should be outraged about this type of blatant racism that was not immediately taken down. To truly get to a place where people of all races, creeds and colors feel accepted and safe, those who have benefited from the status quo need to stand up for the marginalized. Right now, the racists of our region are winning.
They are winning when they see the sole person of color, who is also queer, leave their elected position on the Bend City Council due in part to being targeted for their identities.
They are winning when a sign engaging in racial stereotyping is allowed to stay up for more than a single hour.
They are winning when people of color from other regions come here and get called the "N" word within hours of their arrival.
They are winning when a Confederate flag is waved during a Redmond parade, and the City doesn't have the political will to ban them from future parades.
They are winning when a Black man is shot dead on the streets of Bend after flirting with a white man's girl.
They are winning when a Black teen ends his own life after being bullied at Summit High School.
Elsewhere, they are winning when a man in Buffalo, New York, can find fellowship in using the Great Replacement Theory as justification for shooting down Black people at a grocery store. They continue to win when the theory is regurgitated on cable news.
This is not a struggle that any of us asked to be in, but it's happening. Using reason or even espousing empathy has thus far not ended this—so what do we do?
What we certainly don't do is nothing.