Kevin Landry’s guest column (“Time to move on from a cancerous past,” July 11) highlighted the significant discrimination and challenges that Franco Americans overcame as they assimilated in our country.

This is a history that should not be forgotten for, as Winston Churchill once said, “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

Landry then uses the Franco American struggle to debunk the term “white privilege,” as clearly Franco Americans were not privileged. He further suggests that given the progress of Franco Americans and many Blacks it is time to move forward and not dwell on Americans’ “cancerous past.”

Here, unfortunately, Landry misses the point.

White privilege does not mean that that one hasn’t struggled. It only means that the color of one’s skin hasn’t made it more difficult. It is important that we study and learn from our history in seeking to understand and make our great country even greater.

Just this week, for example, I learned for the first time that the wealth of Maine sea captains and shipbuilders was in part a result of the slave trade, and that Admiral Perry was the only white on his exploration to reach the North Pole.

It wasn’t until a little over 10 years ago that I learned about the tragedy of Malaga Island. These and so many other stories need to be uncovered and told.

Landry also misses the point on systematic racism. The issue isn’t whether or not the motivations were racist, but what is the end result.

Here there are countless examples of racism. We have inner city neighborhoods that have been dissimilated by our highways; trains that blow their horns at night in poor neighborhoods, but not the rich suburbs; the extreme crack cocaine sentencing policies that disproportionately impacted Black males; the redlining of neighborhoods that limited mortgage financing and deprived many Black families from achieving the same equity growth in housing values. There are, no doubt, hundreds, if not thousands, more examples of systematic racism.

We have so much to uncover about our past, and I just purchased my ticket to the Maine Historical Society exhibit entitled “BEGIN AGAIN: reckoning with intolerance in Maine.” I look forward to learning more about our past and supporting further efforts to make America greater.

Bill Webster, Georgetown

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