The intolerant West

 

In the "Editor's Note" in the Oct. 26 issue, Jonathan Thompson states that "many (refugees) face racism and xenophobia..." in Western cities and towns. One doesn't need to be a refugee or from another country to face these same issues.

Despite being born a U.S. citizen and having 15 years of community service in the town of Granby, Colo., I faced racism and a marked sense of unwelcome in what I had hoped would become my home town. Good-ol'-boy attitudes created an atmosphere where preferential treatment was justified by how many generations one's family has resided in the county or whether a certain business supports community projects. All too frequently, pressure is applied to local boards to accommodate these parochial interests instead of adherence to signed agreements, adopted code and state law.

Interracial couples in Granby are rare and keep a low profile, and Hispanic workers are automatically dismissed as "wetbacks and illegal." A local businessman was vocal in saying, "We don't need no Chinaman mayor," during one of my elections, and was simply excused by people who said, "That's just the way he was brought up."

No, you don't have to be a new arrival from an unexpected place to face narrow-mindedness and bigotry in the West. If you're not a local by birth and ethnicity, the "New West" falls far short on the tolerance scale.

Edward "Ted" Wang
Former mayor of
Granby, Colorado