Iíve put off writing this letter with the certain belief that it would be just one among dozens The Press would receive on the matter. Sadly, The Press hasnít published any such letter, compelling me to write my own.
Like much of Coeur díAlene, I spent Independence Day morning enjoying the parade with family and neighbors. That was, until Dixie Servicesí overtly racist display of a ďpickaninnyĒ eating watermelon, a grotesque, unashamed callback to violent Jim Crow-era racism. My stomach sank suddenly noticing all the African American children in attendance. Wondering if they had seen it. If their parents had. Would their family reconsider their place in our community? Did they feel safe?
Itís absurd that I need to make the point, but displays of racism have no place in our community celebrations. The U.S. Supreme Court has unambiguously ruled that a parade organizerís free speech rights allow them to exclude those promoting views opposed to the organizerís own values. Itís baffling that the Chamber of Commerce would then tacitly endorse this hateful and violent message by allowing such a display in their parade.
Iím hopeful that the Chamber will be a better steward of our celebration next year. Let the racists organize their own parade. They have no place in ours.
DR. MATT K. PETERSEN