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"Race And Religion In Buffalo"

Somebody said today that my hometown, Buffalo, is bigoted.
I don't think a city can be a bigot.

The person who made the accusation
may have had the bad luck of dealing with some bigots,
who probably don't officially represent the city.
Or the accuser may just be a little too sensitive.
Or paranoid.

This person  alleges that Buffalo is prejudiced against Blacks, Protestants, and Jews.
It must be a new law.
I'm a Protestant and my wife is Catholic, and we're both from Buffalo.
We don't have anything against each other.

In school, 
it did make me a little mad that Jewish kids got more holidays than we did,
and Catholic kids got out early to go to catechism, whatever that is.
I felt left out, but I didn't think I was a bigot,
because I had never heard of a bigot.
We didn't have them then.

All of my teachers were Jewish,
as were thirty percent of the students.
Another thirty percent were vaguely Polish,
and my thirty percent were a ragtag bunch of mixed breeds.
In the remaining ten percent were a couple of Native Americans 
(which in our childlike innocence we called Indians),
Italians, Germans, and Generics.

We went to school together, and played together,
and got into trouble together.
These were my friends...most of them.
If I got angry at somebody,
it was because of something like a bad call at home plate,
not race or religion.

I know there was racial discrimination,
as there was all over America in those days.
I knew it then, 
and I acted against it in small ways that I won't mention here,
but it was a national business,
not owned and operated locally.

Bigotry has not been peculiar to Buffalo in any era,
and I've only heard it mentioned in that light once.
One person is is entitled to voice his or her opinion,
but one person is not a focus group.

Copyright  July 4, 2007 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission.


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