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Harry Mallory's Nov. 13 diatribe asserts incorrectly that people are asked to feel “guilty” for having white privilege. White privilege is a fact, but guilt is irrelevant. None of us alive today invented or participated in enslavement; we did not create Jim Crow laws or redlining. Race is an accident of birth, and the denial or granting of certain privileges is unearned. Privileges denied to people of color include being presumed innocent or at least not dangerous in the eyes of the police; being presumed qualified and/or capable for jobs, and belonging to or fitting into the dominant society.

No one is asking whites to feel guilty, but we are asked to recognize and fix certain unjust realities: Black people are five times as likely to go to prison as whites convicted of the same crimes (six times as likely for drug-related convictions), despite being no less likely to commit any of those crimes. People of color — children and adults — in Corvallis are insulted, spat upon, and threatened for simply existing. These actions are wrong.

Those of us who value the concept of “liberty and justice for all” must listen, engage and apply our compassion and our values to assure that all people are safe, are treated fairly and justly, and that the “privileges” we enjoy are freely available to all. That is our responsibility. Let us take the opportunity.

Laurie Childers

Corvallis (Nov. 15)

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