Black and White in Grays Harbor County

Grays Harbor Wake-up Call

I grew up in Aberdeen. This article ["Black and White in Grays Harbor County," March 16] is long overdue. The inability of Harborites specifically, and Washingtonians generally (outside of the I-5 corridor), to talk about race is disheartening. I didn't realize how sheltered I was in terms of race until I moved to the South and realized I didn't even have a vocabulary to talk about race and how it affects communities.

Clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed on the Harbor. Daily World Editor John Hughes claims, "All decent people are just appalled whenever they find anything like that in their midst." Yet this article didn't come to me out of the Daily World. Decent people should be appalled, but they should also be compelled to act. Questioning the validity of Angela Walker's experiences by claiming there could be a "veneer of hyperbole" just allows all those "decent people" to ignore the issues at hand and avoid working to change their community.

If, as everyone claims, the goal is to revitalize the Harbor, then Harborites have to accept that people of other races and religions will be moving in. Communities must change in order to survive, and that means community members must learn to accept the new and not bury their heads in the sand.

I hope everyone in Grays Harbor takes this article for the wake-up call that it is.

Brandy Brown-Grabow

Greensboro, NC

Not my Hoquiam

I was born and raised in Hoquiam/ Aberdeen ["Black and White in Grays Harbor County," March 16]. I lived there until I was 20. I go "home" as often as possible, and I do not see what Angela Walker sees. I have questions about her story. When she talks of an old man pulling a gun on her son and his friends, are his friends black as well? And if not, is that still racism? The Harbor I grew up in had many bitter "old folks" who didn't want any minors near their homes. They would yell at us, tell our parents we were bad, and chase us off their property with brooms. They didn't trust us. And we weren't black. People generally knew their neighbors, and if they didn't, they were wary of them. I witnessed many fights at Hoquiam High School, and none were racially charged. Teenagers fight. There were only a handful of black people in my school while I was there. One was one of my sister's best friends. She wasn't picked on; neither were her siblings.

Being in a small town with nothing to do leads to boredom. Egg night happens every year; it's a war between Aberdeen and Hoquiam high schools, and innocent passersby are usually pelted, too. Sugaring gas tanks is something I heard about a lot as a teen—something to fill the time, and usually random. I'm sure Walker has valid concerns, but I think a lot of what is in her story is just the same old thing with a different color kid. Not racism around every corner.

Sunshyne Kerske

San Antonio, TX

Respond to Racism

Thank you for continuing to play a vital role in raising the awareness level of social injustice that takes place in Washington. Rick Anderson's "Black and White in Grays Harbor County" [March 16] serves as an eye-opener to the reality of racism in America, even in the seemingly multicultural, liberal communities of the Pacific Northwest.

I am appalled by the behavior of local officials, from school teachers to the police department. What happened to the Walker family is no longer "isolated" when the community at large fails to respond. If the attacker is accompanied by bystanders, the situation is no longer isolated and the injustice receives a societal stamp of approval.

Sophia Kan


Crying for Attention

It was amusing to see the story of how blacks are being treated in the hick towns of Washington ["Black and White in Grays Harbor County," March 16]. It was way overdone and is nothing new. Everybody regards what has happened to the Walkers as normal. The basic truth about the Walker parents is that they are exhibitionists who want to see themselves portrayed in the media as the poor "tragic heroes" of the world and are putting their children's lives at stake to gain notoriety. They are nothing but troublemakers who should be better parents by moving somewhere safe to raise their children. If they think that they are going to create any change out in the land of the rednecks, they are not only ridiculous, they are fools.

Marc Steine


Abortion Relief

We are grateful for Nina Shapiro's "They Had Abortions" story [March 16] and the opportunity to share women's personal abortion stories. It is astounding, however, that she called the event "heavily politicized." It was purposefully the opposite of politicized. This event was all about women and their stories, not politics. From the book we created detailing 10 women's stories to the film featuring a collage of abortion experiences, there was not a political pip to be heard. The goal was simple: reducing the stigma surrounding abortion and highlighting women, not politicians and activists, in the movement.

From Shapiro's article, it seems the only "proper" response to an abortion is grief. But there is no one way a woman feels after an abortion, and no one way she "should" feel. For many, the choice to have an abortion is one that is met with relief and gratitude. The women who spoke at our event were not met with "cheers." When they acknowledged a lack of regret, the crowd merely affirmed their experiences.

I agree the pro-choice movement often avoids discussion of abortion procedures. However, we acknowledge that many of our clients view abortion as ending a potential life, and we answer all questions our clients have about the procedure.

It is tragic that women are denied the support they need for the reproductive choices they make. Whether a woman chooses to have a child or an abortion, we need to create a culture that affirms all of women's choices.

Amie Newman

Communications Manager, Aradia Women's Health Center


We Need Sunshine

Public-disclosure laws are frequently referred to as "sunshine laws" [Mossback, "Public Exposure," March 16]. As a frequent user of the Freedom of Information Act and Washington's public-disclosure laws, I urge readers to contact their legislators and insist that we want more sunshine on government documents, not less. The current proposed regulations will not open the window for more sunshine, and that is troubling.

As the rate of "public-private" deals escalates and we citizens find our officials negotiating away public assets—either our tax dough or land—it is crucial that we know all the details of proposed transactions. Frankly, the folks negotiating for the public's assets are very experienced and, in many cases, outgun the negotiators for the public. The public, busy making a living, has little time to evaluate these so-called "deals." Without strong public-disclosure laws, interested citizens and reporters have no information that can inform the rest of us.

More troubling, however, is the underlying attitude conveyed that the "owners" of the information and public assets are public officials themselves, not taxpayers.

Sharon Gilpin

Bainbridge Island

Open up: Write to Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to By submission of a letter, you agree that we may edit the letter and publish and/or license the publication of it in print, electronically, and for archival purposes. Please include name, location, and phone number.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow