Racist attitudes spark conversation in Elkhart County

An Elkhart Truth correspondent visited Concord Mall last week and asked that question. Five people share their thoughts and experiences.

Posted on May 4, 2014 at 12:32 p.m.

Correspondent Mark Shephard visited the Concord Mall last week and asked, "Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling have brought racism back into the limelight. We’ve come a long way since the civil rights battles of the 1960s, but apparently we have more mountains to climb. How would you judge your generation with regards to the racism issue within our society?"

Antonio Ledezma, RV worker, Elkhart:

"I feel like you said, we still have a lot of mountains to climb. We’re far from getting where we’re supposed to be." Follow-up question: What do you see locally? "Well, here in Elkhart in the city is not nearly as bad as out in the country. You go out to work somewhere where you got country people, and they’re not used to us. When we came here in ’95, there was a lot more racism going on, and I see it less and less, year for year."

Sonja Lancaster, factory worker, Elkhart:

"I believe on certain levels it’s worse than it was. Verbally, it’s worse. Now back then it was worse physically, but now it’s worse verbally, and it’s also worse because it’s within racial groups. There’s racism and prejudice within racial groups — not only whites and blacks, but blacks and blacks, whites and whites, Mexicans and Mexicans. So I believe right now this generation is worse than it was in the Malcolm X, Martin Luther King days. And as far as that gentleman (Sterling), I believe he’s just one of many that feels that way, it’s just that he got caught on the phone. He caught in a recording, unfortunately for him."

Yolanda Hall, hair stylist, Goshen:

"In my personal opinion I see no color, and I actually date somebody that is a black man." Follow-up question: Do you think your generation is more open? "I think they’re more open with it, because there’s a lot of mixed couples with my generation. So no, I don’t think there’s a big problem with it."

Robert Bowe, retired saw sharpener, Elkhart:

"I was raised up in West Virginia, and I wasn’t raised up around no black people, you know. But I have no problem with it." Follow-up question: Do you think that younger generations are different than your generation, and in what respects? "Yeah, I think they are. They respect them (other races) more than my generation. I’ve been here for about 37 years. I haven’t seen too much here."

Josh Skow, Northridge Middle School seventh-grader, Goshen:

"It’s terrible. You see it everywhere — you hear it in school, you see it online, you hear it through Xbox and things like that. Everywhere you go you’ll hear it — racist names and stuff". Follow-up question: Why do you think it’s so bad? "Mostly everyone does it. Ninety-nine percent of the people do it."

Catie Dickerson, Northridge High School junior, Goshen:

"It isn’t that bad with racism so much as like just singling people out." Follow-up question: What do you mean by singling out? "Bullying. It not just so much as a race issue." Follow-up question: Why do you think you get bullied? "Just for being different in general. The older generations focused more on race, and our generation focusses more on social actions and how act you around people. I don’t think it’s mostly race, but then there’s a lot to do with how your parents influenced you growing up. What they say to you sticks in your mind."

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