Today it is my honor to introduce you to my new friend, Inetta Gaines. 

Inetta was kind enough to send an email to me after last week’s column in which I commented on current events, specifically the coronavirus and the national conversation taking place about racial justice and equality. 

Inetta started by telling me how much she and I have in common. She has lived in Brentwood for 25 years. She and I are close to the same age and have been married to our spouses more than 35 years. We both have adult children and are grandparents.

And like me, Inetta is keenly interested in having civil discussions about matters of importance to our community, state and country. We agree, as I wrote last week, learning is a lifelong process.

We ended up exchanging several emails, beginning a conversation I hope we’ll continue. I’m sure we don’t agree on everything, but we agree we can learn much from each other. 

As a Black woman, Inetta was particularly interested in my comments concerning race. And as to the points I made, she said she could have written them herself “with the exception of a few tweaks.” She took several of my bullet points and adjusted them with some of her own thoughts and ideas. 

I’d like to share those with you. My original words are in lightface, with her edits in bold: 

— I know, although we have  come a long way in the area of justice and equality, we still have work to do, and we need to keep talking about it and instituting policies that aren’t primarily racist. 

— I know I grew up in a racist environment, and for most of my life, I have tried to understand why I am judged by the color of my skin and not my actions. For that reason, the subject of racism is a raw and sensitive one for me. 

— I know, even with the progress we might make regarding justice and equality, some people still won’t get it. It’s a matter of the heart. In tearing down statues, changing names and removing other symbols of racism, those actions help me to see there are people in positions to act with a heart and they hear my pain. 

— I don’t know why police officers are being vilified because of the bad actions of a few. Every day these brave folks put their lives on the line to serve. One of them did that in Brentwood last week and was killed in the line of duty. Just as it is unfair to engage in racial profiling, it is unfair to lump all police officers into one category. And just as we bring people accused of a crime to justice, those people must include police officers as well. 

— I know there is a presidential election this year. Similar to how it was four years ago, I know neither major party candidate excites me, yet I am still grateful for the process!

— I know what I must do when I go into the voting booth in November. Although Joe Biden should not have made the comment regarding if you are Black and you still are wavering, then you’re not Black, or something to that order, for me as an African-American, it rings true! The current president does not represent me and I am usually offended by the majority of his comments and policies.  

— I know, for many questions, there are no easy answers. But I know it’s important to continue asking and praying for resolutions that help keep us on track of “forming a more perfect union.” 

Thank you, Inetta. Let’s keep this conversation going.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].

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