Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Thank You to Ms. Bah

I am writing to share with you how much I look forward to the Opinion pieces contributed by Ms. Char McCargo Bah. Her January article on Mr. Phillip Bell and the Lewis and Poole Funeral Homes bought back some poignant memories for me because Mr. Bell conducted the services for both of my parents. I was married and living in Sacramento when my father died and I assisted my mother in making arrangements for his services. My mother lived for a number of years after my father and the one thing she told me often was that I was to find Mr. Bell and the former minister of our church when she passed. Mr. Bell had semi-retired because of health issues but he prepared my mother for viewing and arranged her services. He was a master at preparation of the deceased in the African American community. Char's article captured that reverence and respect he gave as well as the respect the community had for his services.

At the end of the year, Char did an article that highlighted articles she wrote for 2019. She included in that mention of the article she wrote on my son, a California firefighter with roots in Alexandria. Her article was flagged by his college public relations department and they featured him in an alumni article of their own. It also caught the attention of his current fire department and they featured him in their department newsletter. So the Gazette has gotten attention in Florida as well as California!

I am currently co-chairing a group for the congregation of the mostly Caucasian church I attend who are reading a book that I hope is an opening to talking honestly and openly about racism in American. The book quotes a sociologist who explains what he calls the "white racial frame," which includes both negative understandings of people of color and positive understandings of whites and white institutions. That frame points out that circumstances of where we live, go to school, and who we associate with can promote negative stereotypes because we don't know each other. I love what Ms. Bah offers all readers - an education in who we are and the contributions we have made. I am appreciative of your publication's space for the insight Ms. Bah offers and your obvious awareness of the importance.

Fran Burton

Sacramento, Calif.

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