As a longtime Port Chester resident, I was born in the United Hospital, attended Horton School, the old Junior High School on Irving Avenue, and graduated Port Chester Senior High School (’66). My family has been here since 1925. Both my father and mother graduated from the Port Chester school system. I am no “Johnny come lately” when it comes to being familiar with Port Chester’s unique socio-economic history. During the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, Port Chester was blessed to have a myriad of companies that provided decent jobs (i.e. Arnold Bakers, RB&W, Empire Brushes, Jo-Mar Plastics, Homelite, and Life Savers) that paid their employees living wages. Port Chester is no longer that small industrial village that provided immigrants with the opportunity to acquire the American dream.
Ms. Grangenois-Thomas’s letter to the Westmore News editor was a wake-up call to remind folks times have changed and to many of us, not for the better politically and economically. I’m not going to lament about the 2016 presidential election, which should have been a wake-up call for some of us. The people have spoken and elected the person they feel will best address their concerns and fears. Unfortunately, one of your reader’s responses to that letter was indicative of willful ignorance too common among some Port Chester residents about the obstacles people of color faced and still face every day for their fair share of the American pie. She mentioned the sacrifices of “American heroes who died for our freedom.” Many of those heroes were men of color who fought in segregated units in every war this country has ever fought. The armed forces were desegregated in 1948 by a presidential executive order.
Furthermore, let’s be honest about the existence of institutional racism. I know some of your readers are going to say, here we go again playing the race card. I wish people would be honest with their views on race. Some of you want to dance around the issue of institutional racism because if we don’t talk about it, it will go away. Well, it hasn’t! Sure, overt forms of racism are not as evident. Separate but equal is no longer the law of the land. However, there are segments of the population who will have no problem returning to the “good old days.” Like let’s make America great again! My question is, when has America not been great for the majority?
In closing, the stakes are too high not to form progressive coalitions that will address the need for affordable housing and jobs that pay living wages that will provide every citizen an opportunity to acquire the American dream.
Frederick H. Griffin
13 Field Place