I am a black man living in Maine for 15 years, an African-American male with an opinion about racism in this, my beloved country.

The long silence about racism is what breeds suspicion. America has lost its desire and ability to listen and talk about racism without criticism, blame or punishment.

America lapsed into a social coma when the new century arrived: We dodged the bullet of Y2K and reveled in the endless possibility of Tomorrowland. Things were not rosy, but neither were things uncomfortable enough to look at the silent elephant in the corner of our collective past.

That silent elephant was racism. Although not as vicious as in the past, it was still unsettled, unresolved and neglected. As with all things neglected too long, racism has returned with a vengeance. Everyone is surprised – we thought that passé.

I lived through the civil rights struggle in Chicago, the violent marches and the courage of the Freedom Riders, the voter registration movements and the assassinations.

America would not look at herself until the blare of worldwide opinion shined the same light of justice on our democratic creed, “with liberty and justice for all.”

America has come so far in these 40 years. However, as our leaders die and the world opinion looks to its own, we have lapsed back into the ugly howl of racism. This time, the long silence is a deafening roar of outrage!

I love America! I love our ability to rally in the darkest of times, to band together and solve the most uncomfortable, insurmountable problems of advanced citizenry.

Now is the time to talk and listen to one another: We must hang together, or we shall surely hang separately.

James Weathersby

Augusta