Newsroom visitor hopes for end to racism

I often receive phone calls, emails and even impromptu visits from readers who have been wronged or who are so frustrated that they turn to the newspaper, hoping we can share their problems and help turn things around for them.

While I genuinely would like to find a solution for every one of these folks, the fact is many times, I cannot.

Sometimes the story they tell is a consumer complaint that is so focused on a narrow issue that it simply would not be of interest to our general readership.

Sometimes they are seeking revenge and hoping we will help them by publicly embarrassing someone who has wronged them.

And often they want to remain anonymous but still name the others involved in their complaint, something we choose not to do for obvious ethical reasons.

But every once in a while, I meet someone who has a story to tell that I know will touch our readers. Then we choose to share it, in a news story or feature story. Or sometimes that story lends itself to a column.

This is one of those stories.

Racism exists.

That is an acknowledgment that Tribune Chronicle reader Donna Warren said she needed to hear.

This retired General Motors worker visited the Tribune Chronicle offices several weeks ago, frustrated almost to tears with the racism that her granddaughter, a senior athlete at Warren G. Harding High School, experienced on the basketball court.

She stopped here on a morning when I had a few minutes, so I invited her to settle into our conference room to chat.

The incident she described occurred during the recently concluded high school basketball season when the Harding Raiders faced off against a varsity basketball team from a predominantly white Mahoning County public school.

Warren said a white player from the opposing team called her granddaughter a derogatory racial slur and then questioned why they even should be facing off against one another.

Warren, of course, was appalled, as grandmother would be, and as anyone who witnessed the incident or is reading this should be. But rather than lash out uncontrollably or unprofessionally, Warren waited several days, pondering what approach would be best to take.

What she decided was to share the pain that this incident, like all unnecessary hateful acts of racism, cause. Seeking help and direction, she came to the newspaper offices, where she opened up about the need for respect and education. In fact, Warren was so articulate and passionate on the topic, I decided to share her thoughts with you — all in her own words:

“It’s really sad, but I just want it to be acknowledged. This is something that should not be going on inside a high school basketball game, or any basketball game, or any sport where you are called names like that,” Warren said.

“Racism is going to be here until the day I die and you die. That’s a fact. But this girl is embarrassing her school. I just want to be recognized that young ladies — of all colors — should act appropriately.

“This comes from the home. Parents need to teach their girls, young boys, to respect other people and that calling someone that kind of name, it hurts.

“You can’t continue to go out in the world and treat them like you are better than other people.

“It’s forgivable, but it’s something that you will never forget.

“I teach my granddaughter to just keep going and being the best person you can be, and that person someday will finally grow up.”

We only can hope.