The conclusion of Kevin Landry’s guest column (“Time to move on from a cancerous past,” July 11) misses the point.

Yes, our ancestors suffered many indignities and prejudices when we emigrated from Quebec to make a better life for ourselves. (David Vermette, who Landry quotes, also likens our experience to that of today’s Somali immigrants.) And indeed, many of us overcame adversity to improve our lives and become leaders in our society.

There is one glaring difference between the experience of the Franco, Mexican, Somali, and other immigrant groups and those of African Americans. We all came here voluntarily to escape whatever conditions we were leaving behind. The members of the African community who were ripped from their homes and brought to this continent did not.

Franco Americans and other immigrants did not have to endure the physical and extreme psychological abuse of slavery. When we succeeded in developing economic success in our communities, we did not have mobs come to destroy our communities and slaughter us. We did not suffer inequalities in the ability to get financing for our economic endeavors. We have not suffered from the laws tilting the table to enslave our men in the prison system.

There should be no statute of limitations on the need to make amends for traumatic injury by a person or persons in power over another or others. Those who think today’s America is not reflective of our “cancerous past” should look more closely.

Because of the pop culture we grew up in, we white Americans very well may have unknowingly been exposed to subtle forms of racism that would definitely cause us either to react in certain ways to certain situations, or have preconceived notions of certain groups of people. Having said this, even if everyone participating in a structurally racist system is anti-racist, until the system changes, the problem still exists, and we can’t just “move forward.”

Claude Bergeron, Lewiston


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