It was interesting to read the perspective of 80-year San Mateo residents Arleen and Ed Johnson on recent events (“San Mateo mural,” July 25 edition). However, I was surprised that folks who have personally witnessed so much history do not recognize the intent behind “Black lives matter.” Of course “all lives matter.” The point is that the phrase “all lives matter” isn’t truly accurate until “Black lives matter too.”
Surely, the Johnsons have seen much of this over the course of their lifetimes. They must remember when, as young people post-World War II, people of color were only allowed to live in certain parts of the county. Burlingame was off-limits to nonwhites, and in San Mateo, Black families could only own homes east of El Camino Real and west of 101. They must have seen photographs in local newspapers of Black civil rights leader Amelia Boynton knocked unconscious by state troopers at the first Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. They must have noticed the decline in San Mateo County’s Black population from a high of 35,000 in 1980 to only around 20,000 today — directly in line with the growing intensity of our housing crisis. And surely, they must have heard about Chinedu Okobi being tased to death in 2018 by San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies in Millbrae.
Many white people, myself included, have been forced to confront how our country has been deeply shaped by racism, including today. Even in your 80s, it’s never too late to learn.