I was dumbfounded to read Gary Younghans' recent My Turn column attacking, of all things, the Taos Community Foundation ("Taos Community Foundation sidesteps racism issue," July 2-8).

After giving lip service to the fine work this organization has done, he proceeded to insult it ("mealy-mouthed euphemisms" - really?) while quibbling over its choice of words in the TCF's public statement concerning the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

According to this writer, because the TCF failed to use some mandated words or expressions, it was condoning racism in America if not actively practicing yet. Such an accusation defies credibility for anyone associated with the Taos Community Foundation's actual accomplishments.

In some ways, I wasn't completely surprised. The writer is a white man and perhaps felt the need to demonstrate to his peers how "woke" he is on racial issues. That's fine, except his choice of a target was not.

Over the years, I've noted that some white allies, especially the men, feel compelled to overcompensate for their whiteness by inflicting entitled and condescending lectures on other white people. By contrast, the wiser allies practice humility and do the hard inner work of becoming more conscious individuals. Therefore, they make real change in our society instead of the posturing of what's known as "virtue signaling."

For those unfamiliar with the Taos Community Foundation, this group is a valuable financial resource that provides grants and scholarships and other ways to reinvest in the Taos community, including its communities of color. One of its subgroups, the all-women Women Give, in the past has contributed grants valued at tens of thousands of dollars to Las Cumbres - which serves the needs of incarcerated women and the children of incarcerated parents - DreamTree and HEART.

In my opinion, the Taos Community Foundation has no need to apologize or explain its actions nor does it need to pass any purity test. Words are cheap and they don't feed hungry children, help women in need or provide educational opportunities. Deeds matter and the generous deeds offered by those in the TCF speak for themselves. The group's recipients have benefited more from the Taos Community Foundation than from those who attack them but do little or nothing of their own.

Racism is indeed a cancer in our society and those who deliberately practice it, especially from the White House, are the real clear and present danger to both our democracy and our American values. There has always been, however, an unfortunate habit in the activist community to go after white liberals, maybe because they're an easier target than confronting white supremacists or to be exact, white supremacists in power.

But these are the ones who need to be called out, not beneficial groups like the Taos Community Foundation whose only crime, in the opinion of Mr. Younghans, is not adhering to some brittle verbal orthodoxy.

So let's keep our eyes on the ball, please, and not make unconscious accusations of racism the dog whistle of the Left or descend into some progressive form of McCarthyism. If we practice this kind of self-defeating circular firing squad, we will be guilty of being part of the problem, not the solution.

Daniel A. Brown is a resident of Taos County.

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