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  • Writer's pictureBrian Thomas


Updated: Aug 14, 2023


This question was asked recently by Gavin Alston, a ten-year-old boy in a city council meeting in Redmond, Oregon.

About a week before Gavin asked the question, Mayor Ed Fitch, who is Black, found a dead raccoon and a racist handwritten message at his office. The message named Fitch and Redmond’s only Black council member, Clifford Evelyn.

Gavin’s parents, who live in a predominantly white community, decided to go to the meeting in a show of support for Fitch and Evelyn. Gavin’s parents shared with him why they were going to the council meeting and Gavin decided he had something to say.

"Now I’m in fourth, a lot of people have been calling me the n-word or monkey or even Black boy. One girl said to me, ‘I would hit you, but that’s called animal abuse."

Forty years ago, I was much like Gavin, walking to school in a predominantly white community, hearing the n-word flung at me from passing cars or on the playground.

Forty years later this still happens?

Gavin told his story because he “was sad because (he) knows how it feels for that to happen.”

However, Gavin’s story is not one of a ten-year-old being defeated by racist actions in a white community, but rather the strength and courage it takes to be Gavin. Why is it that a ten-year-old boy has to show strength and resilience just to go to school?

It is not easy to be in a room with people that call you the n-word. It is not easy to sit next to a girl who would hit you but didn’t want to “abuse animals.” Yet, Gavin does this every day.

It’s not easy being the mayor of a town. It is made that much more difficult when you have to tolerate and defy racist taunts just to do your job—which includes making the town a better place for people who taunt you.

Gavin wants “people to change and not judge people just because of their skin color. They go to know them for their personality, their kindness, and respect.”

Who is the coward? Who shows strength? The unnamed racist leaving a dead raccoon at the mayor’s office? Or is it the ten-year-old who stands up in a public meeting full of adults, recounts his stories of racism he confronts, and asks: “Why should Black people suffer racism?”

Photo Source: NY Post

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